Unemployment down, more weeks of aid coming

Florida’s unemployment rate dropped in October, reflecting the state’s continued push to reopen businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

But the severe economic impacts of the pandemic will result in additional weeks of state assistance next year for jobless people.

The state Department of Economic Opportunity on Friday announced a 6.5% unemployment rate for October, down from a revised 7.2% in September. The new rate is based on mid-October data.

Since mid-March, the department has received 4.68 million jobless claims, and Friday’s report estimates 659,000 Floridians qualified as unemployed in October out of a workforce of 10.1 million. That was a reduction of 72,000 from the number of people who qualified as unemployed in September.

“What we are seeing right now is a trend of gaining jobs,” Adrienne Johnston, the department’s chief of the Bureau of Labor Market Statistics, told reporters Friday. “We actually gained a little bit faster in October than we had in the last few months.”

Johnston noted the report doesn’t indicate if people are returning to old jobs or finding new work.

The department on Friday also fixed Florida’s third-quarter jobless average at 8.6%.

That quarterly mark triggers an additional seven weeks,

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