TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Unemployment claims in Florida last week were the highest since mid-September, but the number of applications remained similar to levels before the COVID-19 pandemic crashed the economy in 2020.

The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday estimated 7,987 first-time claims were filed in Florida during the week that ended Oct. 23, up from a revised count of 7,481 claims for the week ending Oct. 16.

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The agency had initially calculated 6,671 claims were filed during the week that ended Oct. 16. Over the past four weeks the state has averaged 7,184 new claims.

The weekly average since mid-May, when the state ramped up efforts to get people back into the workforce, is 7,866. Nationally, the estimated number of new claims last week was 281,000, down 10,000 from the prior week.

Over the past four weeks, the national average is 299,250 claims.

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Thursday’s report came as state political and business leaders appeared during a two-day forum held by the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The business group anticipates the state will need to add 2 million jobs by 2030. Last Friday, the Department of Economic Opportunity said Florida had a September unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, down from 5.0 percent in August.

The September mark represented 517,000 Floridians out of work from a labor force of 10.59 million as of mid-September 2021. The number of unemployed people was down 13,000 from August, while the size of the labor force had grown by 50,000.

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