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Florida's falling unemployment rate gives business owners encouraging outlook

Palm Beach County unemployment rate drops to 4.5%
Posted at 4:14 PM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 17:22:56-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Promising new numbers were released Friday that may indicate a rebound in the economy and job growth.

Unemployment numbers in Palm Beach County continue to drop and experts say hiring is well underway.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Rebound South Florida

At the Clematis Café in downtown West Palm Beach on Friday, some recent hires were glad to be at work.

"It was my lucky day. It was my birthday gift," said one worker.

The hiring will apparently continue at this breakfast and lunch café in West Palm beach.

"In the middle of April, we'll start to put out an ad to look for people to come and work for us again," Tracy Licata at Clematis Café said.

New numbers in Palm Beach County seem to back up what is happening at the café.

Unemployment for February checked in at 4.5 percent in Palm Beach County.

That figure is lower in the Treasure Coast counties, except for St. Lucie County where it's 4.8 percent. Martin County's rate is 3.4 percent, Indian River is 4.4 percent and 3.3% in Okeechobee County.

Florida's unemployment rate for February was 4.7 percent, down slightly from 4.8 percent in January. The national average is 6.6. percent.

The decrease in unemployment seems to be fueled by the early reopening of Florida businesses and tourists flocking to the state this winter and spring.

"Leisure and hospitality took the biggest hit. Now, they're leading the way back," said Tom Veenstra with CareerSource Palm Beach County.

CareerSource has dealt with helping unemployed workers affected by COVID-19 closures, and now their office is busy finding people jobs.

"Eighty-six percent of the jobs that were lost due to COVID are back now," Veenstra said. "The trend is really very positive and good for us."

CareerSource said there are currently nearly 2,200 job openings in Palm Beach County compared to less than 400 in April 2020.

There is reluctance to call this a full recovery where unemployment in Palm Beach County was around 3 percent before the pandemic, but the trend is definitely moving in the right direction.