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March unemployment increase, partial picture of COVID-19 impacts

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By JULIE B.  MAGLIO
[email protected]

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The State of Florida unemployment numbers for the month of March 2020 were released by the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on Friday April 17, 2020. The numbers do not necessarily reflect the full impact COVID-19 has had on state employment rates as many of the regulations and closures started mid March.

According to the DEO, “Florida saw expected changes in employment and unemployment data due to COVID-19 and the state’s effort to mitigate the spread.”

Overall the unemployment rate for the state is 4.3% for the month of March.  In February 2020 the rate was 2.8%.  A year ago the March 2019 rate was 3.2% (not seasonally adjusted) or 3.4% (seasonally adjusted).  Nationally the March unemployment rate went from 3.9% in March 2019 to 4.5% in March 2020.

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Hernando County’s total workforce is reported to be 72,839 with 68,621 employed in the month of March.  The March unemployment rate for Hernando County is 5.8%.  The February 2020 unemployment rate for Hernando County is 4.1%.  In March 2019 the county’s unemployment rate was 4.3%.  

The state has enjoyed relatively low unemployment rates for several years.  The last time state unemployment levels were around 4% was 2017.  In 2010 the unemployment rates in Florida were significantly higher around 10-11%. 

In recent years, Hernando County has consistently been ranked within the top ten counties for the highest unemployment rates.

In mid-March, closure of amusement parks and Major League Baseball training game cancellations had begun, but many businesses were still open.  Disney closed their parks March 12, but continued pay for their employees through April 19, when they furloughed around 43,000 of their 77,000 employees.  The Governor’s ‘Safer at Home’ Executive Order was issued April 1.  

The News Service of Florida reported on March 30, that daily jobless claims had soared from between 500 and 900 in the beginning of March to 25,000 claims per day at the end of March.

The News Service of Florida reported on April 15,  “Desantis said 225,755 initial claims had been filed since the previous Sunday, putting the state on pace to top the record 228,484 claims filed during the week ending March 28.”

The unemployment rates should stabilize once the state reopens from the COVID-19 shutdown. There are many small businesses that have closed their doors, but many more have weathered the shutdown so far and are waiting to be able to reopen.
 

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