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ADOBE STOCK IMAGE TURNING THINGS AROUND — Unemployment rates have continued a steady decline in Florida, and the labor force continues to grow. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, more and more sectors are returning to their pre-pandemic levels of employment.

Florida’s unemployment rate dipped to 2.7 percent in July, matching the level before the COVID-19 pandemic slammed into the economy in early 2020, state officials announced last week.

The July rate was down from 2.8 percent in June and 4.5 percent in July 2021, and came amid signs that inflation has slowed. But state economists this week also expressed concerns about a looming economic “downshift.”

Adrienne Johnston, chief economist for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, said the state has hit or exceeded the 70,000 mark in monthly private-sector job growth only seven times since 1990. Johnston said the state economy continues to benefit from reopening earlier than other states after the initial hit of the pandemic.

“We see strong consumer demand continuing, even today,” Johnston said. “As that continues to grow, we are going to see strength in our employment.”

In February 2020, just before the pandemic disrupted the economy, Florida had a jobless rate of 2.7 percent, representing 282,000 people out of work. By May 2020, 1.4 million Floridians qualified as unemployed, and the jobless rate reached 13.9 percent.

In the latest report, the number of Floridians out of work in July stood at 283,000 from a workforce of about 10.66 million.

Compiled by Interim Business Editor Tory Brown


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