Florida unemployment rate ticks up slightly as business owners continue to struggle to find workers

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida’s unemployment rate rose slightly in April, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At 4.8 percent, the state remains well below the current national unemployment rate of 6.1 percent.

A year ago, in the midst of the pandemic, layoffs left people like Lynne Reback suddenly looking for work.

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“I paid my taxes. I paid into this unemployment fund, and it’s very frustrating,” Reback says.

Now, jobs like Reback’s at Orlando International Airport are starting to return.

Florida’s unemployment rate has fallen more than three points since September, dropping under five percent in January, where it’s remained.

In its monthly call, officials with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity  said the reason the unemployment rate has remained essentially unchanged since the beginning of the year is that people are re-entering the workforce.

“Many of those in the unemployed category were entering the labor force looking for a job,” said DEO Director of Workforce Services Adrienne Johnston.

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People who are looking for a job are counted as unemployment, while those who stop searching aren’t counted.

With the work-search requirement for unemployment benefits set to be reinstated this month, people have gotten back to looking for jobs.

“What we’re seeing so far is an increase in jobs across the board and job posts across the board,” Johnston says. “That’s our best picture so far.”

Locally, Volusia County had the lowest unemployment rate, dropping two-tenths of a percentage point.

Osceola County remained the highest in Central Florida as its rate ticked up three-tenths of a point. Overall, only three counties in Central Florida are below the state unemployment average.

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“A lot of the impact on the pandemic and the mitigation efforts were certainly concentrated in the hospitality industry, and we know that Central Florida has a higher concentration of those jobs, so we still do see impacts from that in our numbers,” Johnston says.

While overall leisure and hospitality lags behind other industries, it saw another solid month of job growth as theme parks returned to capacity and cruise ships began planning voyages for later this summer.