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Unemployment report released by Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 6:31 PM CST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Florida has experience eight straight months of job growth according to the report released Friday from the Department of Economic Opportunity. The Department says it’s seeing positive sign in the Florida economy with jobs increasing and unemployment rates dropping.

Florida’s unemployment rate for December was 6.1 percent. It’s down two tenths of a percent from November, but even as the unemployment rate improves, there are still pockets of sky high unemployment in tourism heavy counties.

“And so just the nature of their industry makeup has led to an elevated unemployment rate,” Adrienne Johnston, Economist with DEO, said.

But Chief Economist for the Florida Chamber of Commerce Dr. Jerry Parrish has high hopes for a faster than anticipated recovery of the state’s tourism industry.

“I will guarantee you that as soon as people get vaccinated and feel comfortable again, we’re going to see a big return of visitors from other states and other countries,” Dr. Parrish said.

And DEO says overall, the numbers are trending in the right direction.

“Seeing labor force actually increasing while our unemployment rate is going down,” Johnstone said.

While the numbers are trending in the right direction, the state still has a ways to go to get to its pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 2.8 percent.

But as the Chamber points out, four of the state’s major industries, manufacturing, construction, finance and education, and health services, have nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“So other than leisure and hospitality, which has obviously taken a big hit, I think Florida is doing really well,” Dr. Parrish said.

Florida’s new unemployment rate represents 614,000 people out of a job and actively looking for a new one.

DEO’s report also identified at least 64,000 people who stopped looking for work all together and therefore not counted in the unemployment rate.

The Florida Chamber attributes the positive economic trend in Florida to the state’s decision to reopen schools and businesses. Florida sits half a point lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.7 percent.

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