Florida’s unemployment rate for September nudged slightly upward to 7.6% as the job market struggled to sustain momentum against the coronavirus pandemic, the state Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday.
The rate rose from an adjusted 7.3% from August. There were 770,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 10,143,000. The state’s jobless rate continued to be slightly better than the nation’s rate, which was 7.9% in September.
In South Florida, Broward County’s jobless rate dropped to 8.2% from 9.2% in August, while Palm Beach County’s declined to 7% from 7.9%. But unemployment in Miami-Dade soared to 13% from 8% in August, the apparent result of a surge in new workers who joined the county’s labor force, the state’s data showed.
Statewide, nonagricultural employment totaled 8,532,500 in September for a month-over-month increase of 47,300 jobs. But compared with this time last year, the state lost 451,100 jobs, a decrease of 5%.
Although the month-to-month jobless figures remain relatively flat, first-time unemployment claims continue at lofty levels as hotels, transportation-related companies and entertainment centers continue to extend furloughs or eliminate positions.
The hospitality and leisure industry — a major source of employment in South Florida — has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. For months, industry advocates have been pleading with Congress to include the sector in any relief package lawmakers in Washington might pass.
“Millions of Americans are out of work, and thousands of small businesses are dying,” Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, said in a statement Friday. “It is well past time for our leaders in Washington to pass a stimulus bill to help these employees and businesses in the hardest-hit industries, including and especially, ours. It is unacceptable for Congress to adjourn without passing a bill.”
An early October survey commissioned by the association of 1,994 registered voters, the tourism industry was considered the most affected by the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Other industries they thought were severely affected included food and beverage, education, retail and health care.
Nine in 10 of the respondents backed an economic stimulus bill to support small businesses, the association said. Most also believed Congress should remain in session until lawmakers reach an agreement.
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