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New jobless claims in Florida stabilize week to week

More than 1.6 million verified claims filled since March

ORLANDO, Fla. – The number of Floridians who filed new unemployment claims last week remained almost unchanged from the previous week, suggesting some stabilization in job losses as Florida businesses have started reopening after being closed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, according to labor figures released Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that Floridians filed 223,927 jobless claims last week, compared to 223,082 claims filed in the previous week. Only California and New York had more new claims filed last week.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has received more than 2 million claims seeking unemployment benefits from Floridians, though only 1.6 million claims have been verified. Just under 1 million jobless workers in Florida have been paid more than $2.6 billion in benefits.

Florida's workforce before pandemic-related business closures stood at 10 million workers.

Nationwide, more than 2.4 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the running total to a staggering 38.6 million since business closures started in mid-March. An additional 2.2 million sought aid under a new federal program for self-employed, contractor and gig workers, who are now eligible for unemployment benefits for the first time.

Florida's tourism industry has been hardest hit by the pandemic, with almost a quarter of the workers who have filed jobless claims coming from the accommodation and food service industries, according to the DEO.

Carnival Corp. said in a letter to state officials last week that it was laying off or furloughing 541 workers at the start of next month because of travel restrictions and extended closures of cruise ship ports.

“The decision to make these separations was very difficult and is the result of unforseen business circumstances related to this global pandemic," said chief human resources officer Bettina Deynes in the letter.

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