Florida unemployment claims surge even as US shows signs of recovery

Daniel Fowler
June 5, 2020

Continuing claims, which lag behind initial jobless claims data by one week, are expected to total 20.05 million in the week ending May 23, down from 21.05 million the previous week.

The number of new claims filed last week included 2,430 in the East Tennessee region, which includes Scott County and most neighboring counties, along with Knoxville and surrounding counties. There were another 13,500 initial claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

"States have been focusing on implementing the new programs and working through unprecedented claims volumes and some of the newer reporting has been delayed by the efforts to get benefits to the claimants that need them", a spokesperson for the Labor Department said in an email.

In the comparable week in 2019, initial claims stood at 189 577.

Hospitalizations have held steady or increased slightly as the state loosened restrictions to help revive the economy, and an increased number of people have tested positive for the virus.

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Thousands of claims in ME and other states across the country have been filed using personal information believed to be stolen in huge data breaches in recent years. That week, March 14, there were only 2,702 new claims. Over a six-week period, the state received more than 55,500 initial claims for PUA benefits. The agency added that the abilities to report in the first few weeks and months of a new emergency program "typically vary across states and the current situation is no exception".

Kansas, for example, started paying out PUA benefits the week of May 25 and said it reported numbers to the DOL.

According to their report out in April, the median full-time American worker earning $48,000 a year would take home 15 percent more from unemployment than remaining in their full-time job.

Nonetheless, the number of Americans filing for jobless benefits each week is still in the millions, suggesting the economy continues to experience fresh shocks from the pandemic.

A pair of economists at the conservative Heritage Foundation found however, that in so doing Congress likely inflated nationwide unemployment by almost 14 million by incentivizing individuals to seek the government handout rather than remain in full-time employment. "It's still really bad".

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