By Team

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Continuing a trend, Florida last week posted its lowest total of first-time unemployment claims since the coronavirus pandemic exploded nearly a year ago.

An estimated 16,100 new unemployment applications were filed in the state during the week that ended Feb. 20, down from a revised 21,564 claims the previous week, according to a U.S. Department of Labor report released Thursday.

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The federal agency initially projected 18,982 claims during the week that ended Feb. 13 but revised the number in Thursday’s report. A similar revision upped the totals for the week ending Feb. 6, increasing the initial projection from 17,621 to 21,710.

Nevertheless, the past three weeks have included the lowest number of claims since the pandemic forced businesses to close and put people out of work last spring. The numbers also have shown a drop in claims from recent months. As an example, with a series of layoffs across Central Florida involving the leisure and hospitality fields, the state had 131,958 claims during the last two weeks of January.

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Since mid-march, the state Department of Economic Opportunity has paid out $22.9 billion in state and federal unemployment assistance to 2.29 million claimants. Florida’s unemployment rate in December stood at 6.1 percent, with a January rate slated to be released March 15. Nationally, the Department of Labor estimated 730,000 first-time unemployment claims were filed last week.

The national estimate was a decrease of 111,000 from a revised estimate for the week ending Feb. 13. The national estimate for the week ending Feb. 13 had initially been 861,000.

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