For the first time in more than a year, Florida has posted a weekly count of new unemployment claims on par with the period just before the coronavirus pandemic caused widespread economic damage.
The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday estimated 5,800 initial jobless claims were filed in Florida during the week that ended June 5, down from a revised count of 8,257 during the week that ended May 29.
The department had initially estimated 7,291 claims were filed during the week that ended May 29. Nationally, 376,000 new claims were filed last week, down 9,000 from the prior week.
Florida’s count was its lowest since the week ending March 14, 2020, when the number was 6,463. The state Department of Economic Opportunity marks March 15, 2020 as the start of the pandemic in compiling unemployment claims.
The week ending March 21, 2020, saw 74,313 new claims come in. Before March 15, 2020, the state had been averaging 5,506 new claims a week since the start of 2020. The state’s weekly totals peaked with 506,670 during the week that ended April 18, 2020.
The state has been working to reduce new claims, last week reinstating a “work search” rule that requires unemployment claimants to apply for five jobs a week.
The rule was suspended last year because of the pandemic. Starting June 26, Florida also will no longer provide $300 a week in federal unemployment assistance on top of the maximum $275 a week provided by the state.
“We're in a situation where we have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of job openings,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday while addressing the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors by video. “Our view is the unemployment should be a pre-pandemic type framework. And so, you got to look for work. And you know, we're not doing enhancements with the federal government.”
Florida’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in April, reflecting an estimated 487,000 Floridians out of work from a workforce of 10.24 million. May numbers will be released on June 18.