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New unemployment claims hold steady across U.S., Florida

However, both the unemployment rate and number of workers receiving ongoing claims both rose last week.
 
Guests wearing masks stroll through SeaWorld in Orlando as it reopened with new safety measures in place on June 11, 2020. SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment recently announced plans to lay off many employees who had been furloughed since March, including more than 2,800 at SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens and their surrounding properties.
Guests wearing masks stroll through SeaWorld in Orlando as it reopened with new safety measures in place on June 11, 2020. SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment recently announced plans to lay off many employees who had been furloughed since March, including more than 2,800 at SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens and their surrounding properties. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]
Published Sept. 10, 2020

New unemployment claims across America held steady at 884,000 for the week ending Sept. 5, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The number reflects a recent change in methodology regarding how the Department of Labor calculates new jobless claims, adjusting them to account for seasonal swings. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate actually rose a tick to 9.1 percent, while the number of workers receiving continued unemployment rose by 93,000, to 13.39 million.

Unadjusted claims, meanwhile, were at 857,148, a jump of nearly 20,000 from the previous week. It was the third straight week that number had increased.

In Florida, the seasonally adjusted number of new claims dipped to 36,541. That’s a drop of more than 9,000 from last week’s revised number, although it is likely to rise by next week.

To date, Florida has awarded $15.8 billion in state and federal relief to 1.95 million workers. More than $800 million of that has come since Labor Day, as the state this week began distributing new weekly $300 payments from the federal government’s “lost wages” program. The payments are retroactive to the weeks of Aug. 1, 8 and 15.

Related: Florida will start paying $300 'lost wages' unemployment benefits this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis says

Florida’s job market continues to be hard-hit by the state economy’s reliance on tourism and travel, with good news and bad news often offsetting one another.

More than 117,000 passengers traveled through Tampa International Airport over Labor Day weekend, with 27,000 coming on Sept. 4 alone — the airport’s busiest day since March.

“It’s encouraging to see our travelers have decided it’s time to fly again,” John Tiliacos, the airport’s executive vice president of operations and customer service, said in a statement.

Related: Tampa airport eyes tentative return to international flights

Still, the biggest job-loss news to hit Florida in the past week came out of Orlando, where SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment announced it was laying off most of its furloughed employees, including more than 2,800 employees at SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens and surrounding parks.

Related: SeaWorld, Hard Rock plan layoffs at Florida properties

Among those let go was Matthew Kellam of Kissimmee, a performer in SeaWorld’s Sesame Street area. He applied for unemployment in mid-March, days after being furloughed. Because he still had another state’s driver’s license, it took three months for the state to sort out his residential and employment status, and for his money to arrive. He’s still owed some back payments, he said.

“On one hand, while I feel like I’m stable, and I have enough money to last myself for a while, at the same time, I feel like it could be taken out from under me at any time,” said Kellam, 21. “Every time I get that check, I’m thankful I have the payment. but it also feels like, how many more of these do I have?"

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