November 6, 2022

The Sarasota Journal

Your community-based independent news source.

Jobless claims surge; Florida numbers questionable

Florida State Seal

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits surged to 6.6 million people this week the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday, more than the expected 5 million figure reported earlier in the week.

And this week’s claims topped the eye-popping 3.3 million claims filed last week bringing the total claims to nearly 10 million Americans without work as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the U.S. economy.

“This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in history,” the department noted in a release announcing the new numbers.

For Florida, weekly claims soared to 222,054 Floridians seeking assistance, up from the 74,313 filing claims the previous weeks.

Of course, Florida’s numbers could be even higher given the widely reported problems with the state’s unemployment claims system as many claimants report difficulties in filing their claims.

Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch told the New York Times, “What usually takes months or quarters to happen in a recession is happening in a matter of weeks.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis predicts that before all is said and done, there will be 47 million people laid off and a staggering unemployment rate of 32 percent. That’s higher than the 25 percent joblessness rate during the Great Depression.

Local jobless numbers for Sarasota and Charlotte counties were not readily available Thursday morning.

Staff in Sarasota County’s budget office are already running models to determine the impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on county revenues particularly in tourist development taxes and gas taxes.

Deputy County Administrator Steve Botelho said those impacts likely would not be known until the end of May.

County commissioners are scheduled to hold their first budget workshop of the year on May 27.

However, Commissioner Mike Moran is already calling for county staff to begin a reevaluation of capital projects already underway or planned for 2020-21. He hopes to have a discussion about that if commissioners hold a planned meeting next week.

Warren Richardson
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