MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Florida’s unemployment rate hovered around three percent.
But as businesses closed down and people were told to stay home, the jobless numbers rose. In July, unemployment in Miami-Dade was around 14 percent, according to the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University.
Most of the new jobs created in the past decade following the Great Recession have been “alternative work” which includes temp, on-call, contract, and freelance or “gig” work, according to an analysis by the center.
“We didn’t have the level of employment and the employment base that was nearly as strong as the numbers seemed to indicate. That caved in with COVID as most of the job loss has been with contract workers and temp workers and gig workers,” said Dr. Ned Murray, Associate Director of the Metropolitan Center.
According to an NPR/Marist Poll conducted in 2018, contractors made up 20 percent of the labor market with a prediction that contract workers could make up half of the American workforce within a decade. Getting back to work post-pandemic will likely mean more of the same.
“Industries typically restructure when they go through an economic shock like a recession and restructuring begins with the labor force cutting labor costs, that’s the number one objective,” said Murray.
That means furloughed workers might not be called back and the ‘new normal’ for rehires could be project-based freelance work rather than full-time employment with traditional benefits.
“Are we going to see, once we begin to pull out of this economic shock, are we going to see an acceleration of more temp type of work, contract kind work, as opposed to full-time employment and how is it going to impact business and the worker,” wondered Murray.
One bright spot in the state is that first-time unemployment claims are down nearly 25 percent. The decline may be attributed, in part, to people realizing that federal benefits are set to run out and they are now seriously looking for work.