Unemployment rate unchanged as recovery stalls

Unemployment rate unchanged as recovery stalls

ORLANDO, Fla. — The economy continues to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but the pace has slowed significantly.

With coronavirus cases spiking all across the country, many jobs and many industries are simply unable to get back on their feet.

READ: Orange County Mayor warns thousands could lose their homes without more federal assistance

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The November jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals an unemployment situation that simply isn’t improving.

Unemployment rates were higher or unchanged in 25 states since October, the bureau reported Friday.

Ariel Austin is one of the 650,000 Floridians still out of work.

“It’s to the point where I’ve had to sell my furniture just to try and get some kinds of funds to pay something,” Austin says.

She is also still waiting for unemployment benefits.

“They will not tell me why anything is on hold still. They just keep advising me to keep claiming weeks.”

While Austin waits for unemployment, she also faces a job market that is no longer improving.

The state unemployment rate, which fell from September to October, did not budge from October to November, staying at 6.4 percent.

Across the Central Florida region, four counties have a higher unemployment rate than the state as a whole, with Orange and Osceola Counties coming in at 8.1 and 9.7 percent respectively, the highest in Florida.

The reason: many retail stores are not hiring seasonal workers this year, all while conventions and tourism have not come back.

“We know that jobs in leisure and hospitality and retail trade were significantly impacted earlier in 2020 by the pandemic,” said Adrienne Johnson with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

In a Friday press call, DEO officials suggested conventions and tourism should return as vaccine distribution becomes more widespread and people feel comfortable traveling again, but it will take time...time people like Ariel Austin just don’t have.

“I don’t have anything else to give. I don’t have anything to bargain with.”