New applications for unemployment assistance in Florida declined for the fourth-straight week — a sign that vaccine roll-outs and reopenings in the state are leading to fewer layoffs.
For the week ending April 3, new claims fell from 15,716 to 11,891. The number of so-called continuing claims, or those who have filed for unemployment for at least two-straight weeks, increased from 116,512 to 123,253.
Nationally, new jobless claims increased from 728,000 to 744,000. It was the second-straight week of increases.
The Miami Herald has reported that while unemployment rolls, especially in Miami-Dade, remain well above pre-pandemic levels, there are now severe mismatches in the labor market between the skills of those out of work and demands among employers, especially service jobs, who increasingly find it difficult to fill open positions.
“It’s not that we’re not getting qualified people. We’re not getting any calls at all,” said Jacqueline Pirolo, co-owner of Miami Beach’s Macchialina Italian restaurant, a South Beach stalwart. “We’ve never seen anything like it.”
Weekly jobless claim data has been choppy throughout the pandemic, as bottle-necked and under-resourced unemployment systems, like Florida’s, struggle to keep up with demand. In an email to clients, Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation, said this week’s national increase was heavily influenced by new claims in Michigan and New York. These states continue to struggle to balance reopenings with new case loads, he said.
And while shorter-term unemployment is down 26% on the year, 14 million Americans remain on federal pandemic unemployment assistance extension programs, he noted.
“New weekly claims have been below the stratospheric 1 million mark for three straight weeks, signaling a new stage of the jobs recovery,” Stettner said. “Nonetheless, the 741,000 new claims for state benefits have been up for the past two weeks in a row and remain 3.5 times as high as pre-pandemic levels.”