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Florida Unemployment Drops To 7.4%

Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.4% in August, a sharp decline from July, when it was 11.4%, according to state statistics released Friday.

Jobless claims are still high, however, as Floridians and businesses attempt to inch back to economic health during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Economic Opportunity announced Florida gained 57,500 jobs last month.

Officials say Florida lost 1,178,100 jobs from February to April 2020 and has since gained back over half of the jobs lost.

Economic activity is still stunted by the continuing virus outbreak, even as bars reopen in parts of the state and schools attempt to resume an in-person, normal schedule.

The tourism dependent Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metropolitan statistical area maintained the highest unemployment rate in the state in August at 11 percent.

Department of Economic Opportunity chief economist Adrienne Johnston said the numbers reflect the gradual reopening of the economy.

However, she cautioned against giving too much weight to one- or two-month trends.

“People are finding jobs. They are going back to work. It may not be the same job, and they may be finding one job when they had two,“ said Johnston. “So, there are a couple of things there just to be mindful of when you look at these trends. But the key is that people are getting back into the labor market.”

The new figures provide a snapshot of the state before Gov. Ron DeSantis recently allowed Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward counties to join the second phase of an economic reopening effort that began in early June.

The best unemployment rate, 4.5 percent, was found in the Fort Walton Beach-Destin metropolitan area.

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