Unemployment rate dropped 4% in August, future remains uncertain

Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 10:23 PM CDT
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TALLAHASEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Florida’s unemployment rate dropped a whopping four points in August according to the numbers published by the state Friday.

The significant drop is a sign Florida’s economy is starting to rev back up, but U.S. industry groups are cautiously optimistic about the future.

Florida saw 46,000 private sector jobs created in August.

143,000 Floridians returned to work.

The added jobs dropped the unemployment rate to 7.4%.

The Department of Economic Opportunity attributed the job gains in large part to students returning to school, which allowed their parents to get back to work.

“Job gains were happening across almost all industries,” said Adrienne Johnston Bureau Chief of Workforce Statistics and Economic Research at DEO.

But the economy isn’t out of the woods yet.

More than 750,000 are still jobless and some of the hardest hit industries like hospitality saw some of the smallest gains.

“Consumer sentiment, that’s actually dipped a little bit,” said Geoff Luebkemann, Vice President of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Luebkemann warned the longterm damage from the pandemic is yet to be seen.

“We’re kind of holding our breath, as businesses have done whatever they needed to do to survive this time with little to no revenue,” said Luebkemann.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce shares the same concerns, but is hopeful the job gains will continue in a positive trajectory.

“We’re having more and more treatments for COVID-19 and people are feeling more comfortable going out, but until we get a vaccine and it’s widely distributed, I certainly don’t expect us to get back to 100%,” said Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist with the Florida Chamber Foundation.

And while more Floridians are returning to work, that statistic comes with a caveat.

The numbers don’t reflect how many hours workers are getting or whether Floridians had to take lower paying jobs to make ends meet.

The National unemployment rate also dropped in August by almost two points.

It now sits at 8.4%.

It’s the first time the rate reached the single digits since the start of the pandemic.

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