TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida and the nation saw upticks last week in first-time unemployment claims as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pummel the economy, according to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Florida received an estimated 44,795 first-time unemployment claims during the week that ended Oct. 10, up from 42,306 in the prior week.
The state had been recording fewer than 40,000 new claims a week through September, but it has seen increases as industries such as tourism continue to struggle despite efforts to revive the economy. In recent weeks, the state has received notifications of large layoffs at major entertainment and travel-related businesses, such as theme parks.
Nationally, an estimated 898,000 initial claims were filed during the week that ended Oct. 10, up from 845,000 the prior week. The four-week average for new claims was 866,250, up 8,000 from the four-week average the previous week.
The national numbers are seasonally adjusted, while state-by-state figures released by the Department of Labor are not.
New York had an estimated 68,670 claims during the week that ended Oct. 10. It was followed by Georgia, with 53,400 claims; Illinois, with 46,072; Florida, with 44,795; and Texas, with 43,435, according to the Department of Labor. The number of claims filed in California was not clear because of what the department described as a two-week “pause” in the processing of initial claims related to addressing a backlog and putting in place fraud-prevention technology.
Florida’s increase in first-time claims last week was smaller than several other states. For example, Indiana had an estimated 18,788 increase in initial claims, Illinois saw a 9,805 increase, and Massachusetts had an estimated 9,582 increase, according to the Department of Labor.
In August, an estimated 753,000 Floridians were out of work from a workforce of more than 10.1 million, accounting for a 7.4 percent jobless rate. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is scheduled Friday to release September unemployment numbers.
The state jobless rate peaked at a 13.8 percent in April as businesses closed or dramatically scaled back because of the pandemic. Gov. Ron DeSantis began economic reopening efforts in May and has gradually expanded them. In part, DeSantis lifted restrictions on restaurants and bars after they operated at limited capacities or were closed earlier in the pandemic.
The Department of Economic Opportunity has processed about 4.06 million unemployment claims since March 15. Of those, 2.04 million have resulted in payments that have totaled $17.3 billion in state and federal dollars. The state’s share has been $3.45 billion.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.