Florida Sees Largest Surge in Unemployment

By: Ben Campbell | Published: May 20, 2024

Ron DeSantis’ Florida has witnessed a stark surge in unemployment in recent weeks, surpassing all other states, as per the US Labor Department’s data. This surge stands in stark contrast to the significant decrease in unemployment applications seen in states like New York.

Over 1,000 Sunshine State residents applied for unemployment benefits for the week ending May 11. This increase comes at a time when other states, such as New York, saw a significant decrease in unemployment applications.

Florida’s Rising Unemployment Rate

In the grand scheme of things, under the guidance of its governor, DeSantis, Florida continues to exhibit an unemployment rate generally lower than the nation’s average.

A photograph of a man with a box under his arm after being told he no longer has a job

Source: Freepik

However, unemployment has been steadily climbing in certain parts of the last week, and it appears to have peaked, resulting in the Sunshine State experiencing the most applications for jobless benefits.

Over 1,000 Florida Residents Applied for Unemployment Benefits

In the week ending May 11, 1,158 Florida residents applied for unemployment benefits, the highest number in any state in the US.

An image of a person working on their finances after losing their job

Source: Freepik

The data sourced from the U.S. Labor Department showcases that Florida’s unemployment rate is continuously rising while the country, on average, saw an overall drop of around 13,000 unemployment applications.

Florida Tops the List

During the same week, New York experienced a decrease of around 9,000 people applying for unemployment benefits.

Flags fly atop the Florida Historic Capitol, which is located near the 22-story New Capitol building

Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Compared to the people applying for unemployment in Florida, Pennsylvania, which experienced 893 new claims, was second on the list. Third on the list was Minnesota, with 690, showcasing that the Sunshine State tops the list by a significant amount.

Placing Florida's Recent Surge of Unemployment Into Context

While Florida’s recent surge in unemployment benefits applicants has worried state officials, the state has recovered well from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

An image of a man pictured seated at his desk after losing his job

Source: Freepik

During the height of the pandemic, unemployment claims in the state surged to a staggering 506,670 on April 18, 2020. However, according to information sourced from the Federal Reserve Economic Data, they have since dropped to around 7,000.

Florida's Unemployment Rate Remains Below Average

However, Florida’s unemployment rate remains well below the national average. As of March 2024, the state was experiencing an unemployment rate of around 3.2%.

A photograph which shows several people working in an office

Source: Freepik

When compared to the national figure, which sits at 3.8%, Florida gives the impression that its unemployment rate is still well under control, and state officials have no reason to worry in the meantime


Another Reason Behind the Surge

One reason behind the surge in unemployment claims could be that Florida is experiencing a significant number of people quitting their jobs, according to Newsweek.

A man is pictured smiling after quitting his job

Source: Freepik

According to February figures, the quit rate in the Sunshine State peaked at around 3.1%, which is significantly higher than the national average of 2.2%.


Strong Labor Market in Florida

Despite the surge of unemployment claims in mid-May, Florida continues to experience a strong labor market.

A photograph of Florida’s capitol building

Source: Freepik

“Florida’s statewide unemployment rate has been lower than the national rate for 40 consecutive months,” the state’s commerce department said in March. They specifically referred to the 0.8% gap between the states’ unemployment and that of the national average.


Job Openings Showcase Strong Labor Market

State officials also pointed out a significant surge in the number of available job listings posted online during February, further showcasing Florida’s strong labor market.

A man is pictured attending a job interview with a woman

Source: Freepik

“Data in the month of February continues to indicate there are many job opportunities available for every Floridian who wants to work, with more than 443,000 jobs posted online,” the commerce department added.


Further Data Coming at the End of May

In the coming weeks, it will become clearer whether the initial rise in unemployment benefits applications will negatively affect Florida’s overall unemployment percentage.

A photograph of several people gathered around a wooden table as they go over data

Source: Freepik

Future data set to be released at the end of the month will allow experts to project how the labor market will look as the state prepares to move into summer.


Nothing to Worry About

Doug Tobin, a spokesperson for CareerSource Tampa Bay, suggests that state officials have nothing to worry about as there are a plethora of jobs available in the state, especially in the Tampa Bay area.

A man in a dark suit jacket is pictured attending a job interview

Source: Freepik

Really anyone who wants a job in the Tampa Bay Area can pretty much find a job,” he said.


People Returning to the Workforce in Florida

“We are seeing the higher numbers of 150, 190 people coming in here every day,” said Tobin. “Now, some of that may be what we’re seeing is some people who during COVID left the workforce are starting to come back into the workforce.”

A photograph of a factory worker smiling during a shift

Source: Freepik

“We have a special program right now that if you are unemployed or if you were recently unemployed or if you’ve exhausted some of your unemployment, we do have programs that can help those people up to $5,000 worth of money available for job retraining,” he said.