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New jobless claims level off, but cuts keep hitting hotels, theme parks

Some companies are hiring, but in Florida, Disney, Marriott and others shed thousands of workers.
Josh Wheeler, 19, of Valrico, fills out an employment form Wednesday before his interview at the Hard Rock Event Center at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa. The business was hiring housekeepers at the job fair, one of several it's holding during this week to fill positions throughout the property.
Josh Wheeler, 19, of Valrico, fills out an employment form Wednesday before his interview at the Hard Rock Event Center at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa. The business was hiring housekeepers at the job fair, one of several it's holding during this week to fill positions throughout the property. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]
Published Sep. 24, 2020|Updated Sep. 25, 2020

The long tail of economic stabilization remains relatively flat as the number of Americans filing new unemployment claims last week stayed about the same as the week before.

About 870,000 new claims were filed for the week ending Sept. 19, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That’s a slight uptick from the previous week, and it hews close to the average for the last month.

The new number reflects adjustments for normal seasonal employment, a change in methodology the Department of Labor implemented a month ago. Without the seasonal adjustments, unemployment claims rose to 824,542, an increase of more than 28,000 from the previous week.

Related: Florida's unemployment rate sharply declines in August

Overall, Americans filed more than 26 million claims for all types of unemployment insurance for the week ending Sept. 5, the most recent week for which those statistics are available. The rate of unemployment for the nation’s workforce of more than 160 million was 8.4 percent in August — a drop of more than 42 percent from April.

In Florida, the number of new unemployment claims last week also dropped slightly, to 35,829. That’s a little more than 1,500 fewer than the previous week. The unemployment rates in Florida at 7.4 percent and Tampa Bay at 6.8 percent were below the national average in August. The state has now paid $16.53 billion to 1.99 million claimants out of more than 4 million claims received.

Following furloughs and layoffs numbering in the thousands at Busch Gardens, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin resort recently notified the state that 1,136 employees will be laid off Nov. 13. In addition, the company that supplies food service for cast-member restaurants is extending furloughs for 144.

Related: Furloughed Busch Gardens, SeaWorld workers: Sudden layoffs were 'just a shock'

Hotels surrounding Orlando’s theme parks also continue to shed jobs. Marriott this month informed the state that come Nov. 13, it will permanently lay off more than 1,300 workers at a dozen Marriott and Sheraton resort properties and operations in Orlando. The Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate extended furloughs for 541 employees, writing in a letter to the state that the layoffs would be “temporary but of unknown duration.”

In addition, staff cuts hit The Breakers Palm Beach with furloughs extended at the historic resort for 642 workers — a majority of them full time.

Related: Federal aid for Florida's unemployed has run out. What's next?

Some employers in travel and entertainment are seeing better times.

A month after the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood notified the state it was extending furloughs for more than 1,500 workers, the Hard Rock’s sister property in Tampa is hiring new employees.

The resort has openings for 250 workers in various positions, including housekeeping and floor attendants, and aimed to fill 100 slots at job fairs this week. A few dozen applicants turned out Wednesday morning for the Hard Rock’s fifth local job fair since August.

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"We made a number of offers on the spot,” said casino spokeswoman Darien Cobb.

The last of the Hard Rock’s job fairs this week, for casino cashiers, starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the resort’s events center. For information, visit gotoworkhappy.com.

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