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Unemployment hovers around 14 percent in Palm Beach, St. Lucie counties

Each person responding differently to the coronavirus job crisis
Posted at 7:41 PM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 19:41:40-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Palm Beach County resident Pierre Gieuveux is now out of a job for the first time in nearly two decades.

“I have been working the job for almost 20 years. Now the job is closed,” Gieuveux told WPTV. “They tell us we have no job no more, so we came here looking for anything.”

Gieuveux spoke to WPTV outside CareerSource, where we met others also looking for a word.

“It is cabin fever,” said Joseph Maroney. “[Without a job], you just kind of sit at home. There is nowhere to go.”

Each person responding differently to the coronavirus job crisis.

“It has been a bit stressful, emotionally, sitting at home not being a part of my regular routine,” said Erin Jackson.

Gieuveux, Maroney, and Jackson are just three of more than 1 million Floridians out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to CareerSource, Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate for May dropped only slightly to 14.1 percent, compared to the record-breaking 14.2 percent unemployment rate in April.

St. Lucie County’s unemployment is at 14 percent, Indian River County’s unemployment is at 13.5 percent, Martin County’s unemployment is at 11.4 percent and Okeechobee County’s unemployment is at 8.3 percent, according to CareerSource statistics.

Nationally, unemployment hovers around 13 percent, and Florida hovers around 14.5 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers.

But it’s not all bad news at CareerSource in Palm Beach County.

“Our job orders, two weeks ago we maybe had 400, a little less. Today we have 2800. So we are starting to see things ramp up,” said Tom Veenstra, Vice President of Administration for CareerSource Palm Beach County.

While the 14.1 percent unemployment rate in Palm Beach County is hardly an improvement compared to last month, Veenstra told WPTV other areas are seeing much higher unemployment numbers. Osceola County’s unemployment rate sits at 31.1 percent, Orange County’s unemployment rate sits at 23.2 percent and Lake County’s unemployment rate sits at 20.6 percent, according to CareerSource stats.

“There are some silver linings in the clouds,” said Veenstra. “Total non-agriculture employment is up in the county. That is good. That means more people are going back to work.”

If you are one of many looking for work, job seekers also had some advice to offer.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and tell them what is going on,” said Jackson. “My family did not know I was struggling until this week. My friends, they did not really know. Reach out because you do not know where everybody is or how they are feeling.”

“Do not give up,” said Maroney. “You need a job? Keep looking for a job. There might be a bunch of closed doors, but somewhere there are some open doors.