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Sinking jobless numbers boost outlook for South Florida workers

Palm Beach County unemployment rate lower than state
Florida unemployment rate October 2020
Posted at 4:08 PM, Nov 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 18:56:59-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — More signs are pointing towards economic healing for Florida.

New unemployment numbers released Friday show the jobless rate statewide is at 6.5 percent. Those numbers are even lower in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.

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"What we're seeing now is a trend of gaining jobs, and we actually gained a little bit faster in October than we have in the last few months," said Florida Department of Economic Opportunity economist Adrienne Johnston.

Tom Veenstra with CareerSource Palm Beach County hasn't had much to smile about in 2020.

But the latest jobs report has enhanced his spirit.

"[About] 118,000 more county residents are working today than they were last month," Veenstra said. "Just in April, we had a record high of more than 14 percent unemployment, and as we stand here today, we're down to 6 [percent]. It's incredible."

Tom Veenstra
Tom Veenstra of CareerSource Palm Beach County says "we have a lot to be thankful for" regarding the improved job outlook.

That number has dropped Palm Beach County's unemployment rate to 6.1 percent.

On the Treasure Coast, Martin, Indian River and St. Lucie counties combined for a jobless rate of 5.5 percent. Those figures are all lower than the state average.

Florida's October unemployment rate was lower than the national rate of 6.9 percent.

Patricia Stewart, unemployed Jupiter resident
Patricia Stewart of Jupiter lost her job earlier this year.

Patricia Stewart of Jupiter has been out of work most of the year. She worked for a web developer before the pandemic hit but is now looking for a work from home opportunity.

"There are a lot of jobs out there, but they require a certain amount of experience," Stewart said.

According to CareerSource Palm Beach County, certain types of jobs are now more frequently showing up in their database -- even as the pandemic continues and hopes for a vaccine rise.

"Hospitality, health care construction, retail, warehouse jobs. Amazon has some great jobs with us at $15 an hour and benefits," Veenstra said. "We also have an increase in the county labor force, which means more people are looking for work or they have found work."

Overall, the Department of Economic Opportunity said Florida is still down by 300,000 jobs from this time last year, but the numbers are certainly better than when the COVID-19 pandemic started.