Florida Unemployment Rate Jumps to 14.5%, Despite Some Reported Job Gains

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Newly released state unemployment numbers showed an uptick in the unemployment rate as well as job gains in several industries.

In a video conference call with news organizations Friday, representatives from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) said the unemployment rate in the state was 14.5% in May, a 0.7% increase from April.

“We can see both things happening at the same time,” said Adrienne Johnston, the bureau chief of workforce statistics and economic research at the DEO, referring to the increase in the unemployment rate and job gains.

Johnston said that likely means there are people who are returning to the workforce.

“They’re encouraged to find jobs, so they may be counted as unemployed and they are actively seeking work and they were not counted as that in the prior month,” she explained.

On Friday, the DEO also revised April’s unemployment rate in the state to 13.8% from 12.9% to reflect an increase in individuals who claimed reemployment assistance benefits for weeks in April over the reporting cycle.

While the unemployment rate ticked up, the DEO said seven out of 10 industries in Florida saw job gains in May when compared to April, and 23 out of 24 metro areas in the state had over the month job gains.  

The West Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Delray Beach area grew the fastest at a rate of 4.9% over the month, adding 26,400 jobs. The Miami, Miami Beach and Kendall metro area also saw gains, with 26,100 jobs added in May, as did the Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and Deerfield Beach area, with 24,900 jobs added.  

But the data does not show if the added jobs were new or if they were the result of people returning to their old positions, or how many of them were full-time or part-time.

Greg Frank and his wife were among the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who became unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When he first spoke with NBC 6 in early May, the couple had spent weeks trying to get unemployment benefits without success. NBC 6's Alina Machado reports.

“It’s pretty stressful and very frustrating,” said Adam Ginsberg, a Fort Lauderdale resident who worked in the hard-hit hospitality industry.

For Ginsberg, the numbers offered little comfort.

“It’s not gonna be, hey we’re going back to work and we’re going to be making the same amount of money we’ve been making,” he said. “Not even close.”

Ginsberg told NBC 6 he became unemployed in March and applied for reemployment benefits months ago, but still has not received any money. He said the CONNECT system shows him as active and eligible, but noted there is a pending adjudication.

“And it really doesn’t give me any information,” he said.

Ginsberg said he has tried getting answers on how to fix whatever is wrong with his application without success. He is at the point where he needs answers.

“It’s quite critical,” he said. “You’ve got three months’ worth of bills, three months’ worth of rent, three months’ worth of car payments.”

He has a simple message to the DEO.

“Help,” he said. “Please do your job correctly.”

The DEO did not take questions related to the issues people like Ginsberg are facing during the video conference, telling reporters Friday’s call was strictly to talk about the latest unemployment numbers and not reemployment assistance.

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