Coronavirus: New numbers show April unemployment rates across Central Florida

Osceola County hit 20.3%

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.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Staggering new numbers show the impact of coronavirus across Central Florida as every local county experienced an unemployment rate in the double digits during the month of April.

Businesses across the state had been closed since mid-March to stop the spread of COVID-19. Now, two months later, shops and restaurants are beginning to open their doors and even the major theme parks have target dates in mind for when they can begin operating once again.

For weeks now, employees from impacted industries have struggled to file unemployment claims with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity as the department’s website and phone system have been flooded with users desperate for some sort of financial help.

Now, we’re getting a look at just how dire the situation was in April.

Across the state, the April unemployment rate sat at 12.9%, which is up 8.5 percentage points from March, when the pandemic first began affecting the Sunshine State’s economy, and up 9.6 percentage points from April 2019, according to the DEO.

For some Central Florida counties, that April unemployment number was even higher. See the breakdown below:

CountyLabor forceEmploymentUnemployment levelUnemployment rate

Osceola County, which is home to countless theme park workers, had the highest unemployment rate in both the region and the state.

Locally, the hospitality and leisure industry was the hardest-hit with 113,100 jobs negatively impacted. The construction industry was the only one to see a positive effect, with 600 jobs added since the same time period last year.

According to the DEO’s unemployment dashboard, 996,045 claims out of the 2,101,768 claims received have been paid.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday he expects to see one million people receive their benefits by the start of next week.

“We have now paid out about $2.8 billion in the last 10 weeks. That’s more than the state of Florida has paid out in the last five years combined. So, we are getting close to getting paid one million applicants. I think by the time the weekend is over we will be over that. I think as most of you know, we basically had a million unemployed year over year added by last month. So it has been a really, really top priority to be able to do it. There have been some folks who had problems with applications. The DEO has worked with them to try and get them in order,” DeSantis said.

Now, as some people are eligible to go back to work, DeSantis wants to make sure they have the financial incentive to do so.

“I think what they should do is let people take a full lump sum, like if they are entitled to a certain amount of money over an amount of weeks, just give it to them and then let people go back to work, so they get the big lump sum unemployment and go back to work, that could create good incentive to get people back in the workforce,” DeSantis said.

The U.S. Department of Labor released numbers on Thursday that offered some indication that the economy could be starting to recover. Between last week and the week before, there was little change in the number of unemployment claims in the state.

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