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190 Expected Layoffs Announced At Jax Airport As Unemployment Rate Rises

Eric Gay
April 2020 Associated Press File Photo

Jacksonville got a jolt of bad economic news Friday.

HMS Host, which is a major hospitality and restaurant employer at Jacksonville International Airport, has informed the state it expects 190 temporary furloughs to become permanent layoffs.

In an August 11 letter, HMS Host Field's Carrie Hernandez wrote, “HMS Host continues to see an unprecedented coronavirus/COVID-19 natural disaster.” She said the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the travel and restaurant industries, saying her business has experienced “catastrophic customer declines.”

Hernandez said 190 employees who are currently considered furloughed on a temporary basis, are expected to be permanently laid off on October 16 if they have not been recalled by October 15.

Among those currently furloughed are 25 cooks, 43 bartenders and servers and 36 cashiers.

Looking at the larger picture, new numbers out Friday show the Jacksonville Metropolitan Statistical Area’s unemployment rate worsened in July, rising to 8.8%, from June’s 7.8%.

Looking at just Duval County, as opposed to the metro area, unemployment rose by 1.2 percentage points in July to 9.6%.

Duval County COVID-19 related jobless claims
Credit Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Duval County has seen 85,334 coronavirus-related jobless claims since the pandemic hit, according to Florida’s Reemployment Assistance Claims Dashboard.

Initial claimants by industry
Credit Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Unemployment also rose in July at the state level.

Florida's overall unemployment rate rose to 11.3% in July, as businesses and workers continued to struggle through the coronavirus pandemic.

The new mark was up from an adjusted 10.3% rate in June, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The state initially estimated the June rate at 10.4% but released the adjusted number Friday. The July rate reflected 1.125 million jobless Floridians, an increase of 122,000 from June, out of a labor force of 9.975 million people. 

HMS Host, which also has a large presence in Florida outside of Jacksonville, announced similar expected layoffs at other airports and facilities around the state:

  • Fort Myers: 169
  • Orlando: 782
  • Miami: 445
  • Sarasota: 37
  • Tampa: 322
  • West Palm Beach: 141

- The News Service of Florida Contributed to this story.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.