August job numbers show unemployment holding steady in Florida despite summer COVID surge

529,000 Florida residents still out of work
Posted at 11:51 AM, Sep 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 17:19:13-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's unemployment numbers continue to hold steady, according to the latest figures released Friday by the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Officials said the state's unemployment rate was 5 percent in August, down 0.1 percentage point from July. This figure is down 2.9 percentage points from a year ago and below the national average of 5.3 percent.

Out of the state's labor force of 10.5 million, there were 529,000 jobless Floridians in August.

"This positive sign shows that Floridians are returning to work and Florida's economy continues to provide opportunities for meaningful employment," DEP Secretary Dane Eagle said in a written statement.

DEP said Florida has gained back 974,300 of the 1.2 million jobs lost when the pandemic began in early 2020.

However, the hard-hit leisure and hospitality industry lost positions in August -- down about 4,300 positions.

Officials with the Department of Economic Opportunity said it was, in part, due to the current ebb and flow of the workforce.

"There's still a lot of turn and friction in the labor market. While we're adding new people to the labor market, those people are finding more jobs as we saw with the unemployment rate declining. There's still going to be a little bit of tension between jobs being advertised and people finding those jobs," said DEO Chief Economist Adrienne Johnston.

The latest state data shows Florida has only recovered about 66 percent of the leisure and hospitality jobs it had before the pandemic.

Positions in finance and professional services have exceeded their losses.

Monroe County continues to have the state's lowest unemployment rate at 3.0 percent while Hendry County had the highest unemployment rate at 7.4 percent.

Below is the unemployment rate for Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast for August:

  • Palm Beach County: 4.7 percent (was 8.1 percent August 2020)
  • Martin County: 4 percent (was 5.7 percent August 2020)
  • St. Lucie County: 5.3 percent (was 7.9 percent August 2020)
  • Indian River County: 5.3 percent (was 7.4 percent August 2020)
  • Okeechobee County: 4.9 percent (was 5.6 percent August 2020)