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New unemployment claims drop by nearly 50,000 from previous week

As the unemployment rate falls below 7 percent, another 709,000 Americans filed initial claims for jobless benefits.
 
In this Sept. 2, 2020 file photo, a customer wears a face mask as they carry their order past a now hiring sign at an eatery in Richardson, Texas.
In this Sept. 2, 2020 file photo, a customer wears a face mask as they carry their order past a now hiring sign at an eatery in Richardson, Texas. [ LM OTERO | AP ]
Published Nov. 12, 2020

New unemployment claims among Americans fell sharply during the week of the election, hitting a low point for the pandemic that is still far higher than any other week in recent decades.

Another 709,000 people filed initial claims for unemployment for the week ending Nov. 7, a decline of nearly 50,000 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Continuing unemployment insurance, meaning people receiving benefits at least two weeks in a row, dropped to 6.77 million, while the total number of Americans receiving any form of benefits fell to 21,157,111.

In Florida, new unemployment claims last week fell to 28,128, a decline of nearly 3,500, although that number tends to rise throughout the week. To date, the state has paid more than $18.3 billion to more than 2.09 million claimants.

Florida’s unemployment system, CONNECT, has attracted plenty of criticism from users and lawmakers during the pandemic. Florida lawmakers and officials with the Department of Economic Opportunity are trying to find out what went wrong, but rebuilding the system will be only part of the state’s economic recovery, as it figures out how to bolster its still-struggling tourism and hospitality industries.

Related: Unemployment update: Florida agency will ask for overhaul of troubled website

“The state’s going to be faced with record deficits because of this, where their primary economic generator has been tourism revenues,” said Craig Richard, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council. “If we diversified our economy through economic development, they won’t be so reliant on tourism revenues.”

On Thursday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that consumer prices for food, shelter and electricity increased slightly during October. The prices were offset by a slight decline in the cost of medical coverage.

In Florida, 10.3 percent of residents have reported not having enough food on the table as a result of economic uncertainty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, while nearly 34 percent say they have trouble paying for usual household expenses. More than 9 percent aren’t confident they can continue to afford housing, while a third say that they fear being evicted or foreclosed upon.

Last week, the Labor Department reported that the nation added 638,000 jobs in October, dropping the unemployment rate to 6.9 percent.