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Tallahassee (CBSMiami/NSF) – More than 23,000 Floridians filed first-time unemployment claims last week, as the pandemic-plagued year neared an end.

The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday estimated that 23,053 initial unemployment claims were filed in Florida during the week that ended Dec. 26, down from an adjusted estimate of 28,609 for the previous week.

The Department of Labor had earlier estimated that 24,092 claims were made in Florida during the week that ended Dec. 19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread economic problems and job losses since slamming into Florida in March.

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The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity received 5,043,179 unemployment claims from March 15 to Tuesday and had paid $19.76 billion in federal and state money to 2.16 million claimants, according to the agency’s website.

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