TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - More than 432,000 Floridians filed for unemployment benefits last week, labor officials said Thursday, in the latest wave of jobless claims that have swamped the state’s beleaguered unemployment system since coronavirus -caused lockdowns closed theme parks, shuttered restaurants and halted travel.
The U.S. Department of Labor said 432,465 initial claims for jobless benefits were filed in Florida last week, down slightly from the previous week’s more than half-million claims.
Nationwide, more than 3.8 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the U.S. economy slid further into a crisis that is becoming the most devastating since the 1930s. Roughly 30.3 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the six weeks.
Before the coronavirus crisis, Florida had more than 10 million employed civilian workers in its labor force.
More than 2 million jobless claims have been filed in Florida since mid-March, and more than 835,000 claims have been verified by state workers. More than 404,000 workers have been paid $553 million, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
The latest jobless numbers come as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week announced baby steps toward reopening the state’s economy. Florida’s restaurants and retail stores will be allowed to reopen Monday at 25% capacity, if the local government allows it, the governor said Wednesday.
DeSantis’ order will also allow hospitals and surgical centers statewide to restart nonessential, elective procedures — but only if they have sufficient medical supplies and agree to help nursing homes and assisted living facilities prevent and respond to coronavirus outbreaks. Parks, golf courses and other outdoor recreation areas already began reopening in some counties Wednesday.
Excluded from the order are hard-hit, heavily populated Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. DeSantis said their businesses will begin phase one when it is safer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.