The Phoenix Flyer

Labor report: As demand for workers increases, FL cuts unemployment benefits

By: - July 16, 2021 3:41 pm

Credit: Getty Images/Joe Raedle

Florida’s labor report Friday cites 69,300 new private-sector jobs in the economy over the past month and an increase of 907,000 jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic forced 1.3 million workers off their jobs in spring 2020 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Still, 523,000 Florida workers were unemployed in June, comprising 5 percent of the labor force, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reported. That is slightly higher than in May but far below the spike to more than 14 percent in Florida when the pandemic took hold in the United States last year.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in June was 5.9 percent, representing 9.5 million jobless Americans.

The economic opportunity department reported that leisure and hospitality, which suffered heavy losses during the height of the pandemic, showed the greatest job increases in June, with millions of travelers venturing out for summer vacations as COVID vaccination rates rise.

Monroe County, home of the Florida Keys, had the state’s lowest jobless rate, at 3.5 percent.

Florida discontinued the federal Unemployment Insurance pandemic supplement of $300 weekly on June 26. Because of COVID’s damage to the labor market, the federal supplement was temporarily paid to jobless workers atop state benefits capped at $275 weekly for 12 weeks. Florida’s maximum benefit is the lowest in the nation based on a combination of the number of weeks and the amount of the weekly benefit.

Corporate entities including the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and Associated Industries of Florida endorsed Florida’s cutoff of unemployment benefits, described as a “Return to Work” initiative, but labor unions including Florida AFL-CIO opposed the cutoff.

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Laura Cassels
Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter, former statehouse bureau chief, and former city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper.