By Team

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – An estimated 18,355 first-time unemployment claims were filed last week in Florida, close to the average for the past three months, as leisure and hospitality fields continue to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The estimate released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor for the week that ended May 1 indicated a drop from a revised count of 28,017 new claims the previous week. The state figures came as new claims nationally landed at 498,000 last week, down 92,000 from the previous week. The national total was the lowest for new claims since the week of March 14, 2020, when 256,000 applications were made.

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Florida received 6,463 new claims that week. Since the start of February, Florida has averaged just under 20,000 new claims a week. Last spring, after the pandemic caused businesses to shut down or scale back, the state averaged more than one-quarter million new unemployment applications a week, with 223,082 claims during the week that ended May 9, 2020.

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The peak of jobless applications came during the week that ended April 18, 2020, when 506,670 claims were filed. On Tuesday, the American Hotel & Lodging Association estimated that without additional federal assistance for the industry, Florida continues to be on pace to be down 39,560 hotel jobs when 2021 ends, second only in hotel job losses to California.

Florida had a March unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, representing 475,000 people out of work from a workforce of 10.17 million. The state will release an April rate on May 21.

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