TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – With 23,600 first-time unemployment claims filed last week, Florida posted its second highest weekly total since the start of February, as the leisure and hospitality sectors continue struggling to regain a footing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor said the estimated 23,600 claims during the week that ended April 24 were up from a revised total of 18,838 claims the previous week. The department initially estimated Florida had 16,212 new claims during the week that ended April 17.

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Nationally, the department estimated 553,000 new claims last week, down 13,000 from the previous week. Over the past four weeks, the national average has been 611,750 new claims a week.

In Florida, the latest four-week average stands at 20,466 new claims.

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Last year, as the state’s economy was devastated by the pandemic, 433,103 unemployment claims were filed during the week that ended April 25. The previous week, a pandemic high of 506,670 applications were filed. Before the pandemic hit the state in mid-March 2020, the state was averaging 5,505 new claims a week.

Florida last month had a 4.7 percent unemployment rate, representing 475,000 people out of work from a workforce of 10.17 million. The workforce was down 460,000 people from March 2020. Since March 15, 2020, Florida has paid out more than $26.8 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits to 2.35 million claimants.

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CBSMiami.com Team