TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — First-time jobless claims dropped nearly 25 percent last week in Florida as Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to press forward with efforts to reopen the economy.

The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday estimated Florida received 39,335 first-time unemployment claims last week. That was down from a revised 51,647 the prior week, when Florida also saw a decrease.

The reductions have come as DeSantis has focused on numbers indicating a slowdown in new COVID-19 cases and backed efforts to boost economic activity. For example, he has called for theme parks to expand capacity and has supported plans for professional and college football teams to allow a limited number of fans into stadiums for upcoming games.

On Wednesday, he was in Daytona Beach as the state’s tourism-marketing arm Visit Florida kicked off a $13 million campaign that is directed at encouraging Floridians to travel in the state as the hospitality industry continues to struggle during the pandemic.

During the press conference, he said work continues on ways to relax capacity rules at restaurants and to allow bars to again be able to serve alcohol for on-site consumption.

“My sense is some of these rigid capacity requirements probably aren’t necessary at this point,” DeSantis said. “I think people understand how to distance, how to do different things. So, we’ll definitely look at that for sure.”

Florida continues to draw some of the largest numbers of new jobless claims in the country.

California led the nation last week in new claims, with 236,874. New York had 63,355 claims, Texas was at 56,759 and Georgia had 50,498, followed by Florida.

But Florida also had the biggest decrease in first-time applications for the second consecutive week. After Florida’s 12,312-claim decrease, Georgia saw its numbers go down by 6,270 claims, while Michigan had a decrease of 4,889.

Florida’s unemployment rate jump from 10.3 percent in June to 11.3 percent in July as the state grappled with a surge in COVID-19 cases early in the summer. That represented an increase of 122,000 people, putting the number of Floridians out of work at 1.125 million.

Since mid-March, Florida has received more than 3.8 million unemployment claims.

Florida will update its monthly jobless figures on Sept. 18.

Nationally, about 881,000 new claims were filed for the week ending Aug. 29 under a new methodology being used by the Department of Labor to count seasonally adjusted claims.

Under the new methodology, seasonally adjusted claims were down from 1.01 million the prior week.

National numbers that do not include the seasonal adjustment went up from 825,761 to 833,352 in week-to-week figures.

Florida’s numbers do not include the seasonal adjustment.

(©2020 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner
contributed to this report.)

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