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        Florida’s new unemployment claims slip below 30,000, but COVID-19 still dogs the job market

        Florida’s new unemployment claims took another weekly drop for the week ended Oct. 31 as fewer than 30,000 jobless workers filed for benefits. But the figures still remain well above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels in early March.

        A total of 28,702 Floridians filed claims, a decline of 4,840 from the previous week’s filings of 33,542. Nationally, the figure for seasonally adjusted first-time claims was 751,000, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 758,000.

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        “New unemployment claims in the programs administered by the states were slightly lower than the previous week’s revised level,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate. “The total number of Americans receiving some form of benefit declined by more than a million to a still elevated 21.5 million.”

        The lofty numbers are a function of a U.S. economy that “continues to mount a slower recovery compared to the stronger restoration of employment seen earlier this year," Hamrick said. "Even as employers add or restore jobs, there is still ongoing job loss reflecting the depth and duration of the downturn now in its 33rd week.”

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        The latest example of losses in South Florida again came from the region’s battered hospitality industry. Earlier this week, the venerable beachfront Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach notified the state that it will permanently lay off 126 workers who had been on furlough since March.

        The leveling off of claims has done little to alleviate the worsening condition of finances in households that no longer receive federally funded unemployment, according to a report released late last week by researchers at Harvard University, George Washington University and the University of Oxford.

        “We find no evidence of an economic recovery in household finances as of October of 2020,” the authors said. “In fact, by some measures, we find evidence of a building ‘second wave’ of negative shocks to household finances and of growing inequality in financial fragility by household income, educational attainment, and gender from August to September/October of 2020.”

        The report also concluded that the late July expiration of the $600 a week unemployment supplement provided by a March federal relief act “significantly increased the financial fragility” of the unemployed.

        As of Tuesday, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity said it had paid 2,081,243 people more than $18.1 billion in state and federally funded benefits since mid-March.

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