IMAGE COURTESY NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Despite concerns about inflation and other global economic pressures, Florida continues to see relatively few new unemployment claims.

Florida had an estimated 5,393 first-time jobless claims last week, up from a revised count of 3,698 during the week that ended May 28, according to a U.S. Department of Labor report issued Thursday. Those numbers are similar to the pace of unemployment claims before the COVID-19 pandemic caused massive economic damage in 2020.

Thursday’s estimate followed a Department of Labor report last week that the U.S. added 390,000 jobs in May. It also came as Gov. Ron DeSantis frequently criticizes the Biden administration’s economic policies, while saying the state has set aside record reserves to hedge against a potential recession.

The Department of Labor said last week that the national unemployment rate held at 3.6 percent in May, which was similar to the 3.5 percent mark in February 2020, before the pandemic caused many businesses to close or scale back.

The country had added 2 million jobs this year, despite issues such as inflation and mounting gasoline prices.

Nick Bunker, economic research director for North America at the Indeed Hiring Lab, wrote Friday that the labor market keeps barreling along despite concerns about a slowing economy.

“Demand for workers is tremendously strong, and it’s pulling more and more people back into work,” Bunker wrote. “The labor market will eventually slow down, but for now it’s still humming.”

Nationally, an estimated 229,000 jobless claims were filed last week, up by 27,000 from the prior week. Since the start of February, the nation has averaged 215,000 claims a week.

Over the past four weeks, Florida has averaged 4,853 initial claims a week. In the three months before March 15, 2020, the state averaged 5,362 new claims a week. The March 15, 2020, date is frequently used to mark the onset of the pandemic-related economic problems.

On Tuesday, the Florida Democratic Party defended Biden’s economic efforts, including the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act approved in March 2021. Democrats credited the federal stimulus law for Florida’s economic recovery.

“Thanks in large part to President Biden and Democrats’ American Rescue Plan, we have added 632,800 jobs since then, and the unemployment rate has dropped to just 3 percent,” the party said in a news release.

Florida had a 3 percent unemployment rate in April, reflecting 321,000 people qualified as unemployed from a workforce of 10.54 million.

The state Department of Economic Opportunity will release a May unemployment report on June 17.

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