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Florida’s jobless rate improving, but for how long?

Florida Unemployment

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida’s jobless rate improved in June thanks to reopening efforts.

June’s unemployment report released Friday by the Department of Economic Opportunity showed the unemployment rate dropped from a near-record 13.7 percent in May to 10.4 percent in June.

Unfortunately, that report may already be dated as surging coronavirus cases are putting some people back out of work.

Tampa bartender Kasey Muise is one of the thousands of Floridians riding the unemployment rollercoaster. Muise spent three months out of work when the state shut down bars, only to return to work for a mere three weeks before bars and nightclubs were shut down once again.

“It was fun for a good three weeks while it lasted,” she told 8 On Your Side.

She’s gone from pouring drinks at Paddy Wagon Irish Pub to pounding pavement, interviewing for new jobs.

So how did Florida’s jobless rate improve in June when thousands of workers who recently returned to their jobs were forced back out again?

During a Friday teleconference announcing the latest unemployment report, the Department of Economic Opportunity explained that unemployment claims make up just one component that contributes to the report.

The DEO also said it uses a mid-month reference. Because the governor didn’t shut bars back down until the end of June, people in Muise’s positions were likely overlooked.

A recent surge in unemployment claims may paint a more accurate picture. Nearly twice as many people filed for unemployment last week, compared to the week before.

The DEO acknowledged during Friday’s teleconference that the bar shutdown could cause a trend change for July’s report, which won’t be determined and released until August.

Muise has once again filed for unemployment but says she would much rather go back to work than wait. That’s because the last go-around, she says her benefits were so delayed she was back at work by the time she got them.

“Don’t get me wrong, it helped and I’m grateful for it,” she said. “But at the same time, it didn’t help me during the three months I was out of work.”

With five interviews Friday, and a couple more lined up over the weekend, Muise says she hates to give her beloved bar a “last call.”

But at this point, she can’t afford to wait around anymore.

“I have to do what I have to do,” she said.

Friday’s report showed central Florida suffering the brunt of unemployment. Polk County had the highest jobless rate in the Tampa Bay area, at 14.1 percent.

Heading into the pandemic, Florida had one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates at a mere 2.8 percent. The Sunshine State now falls in the bottom half of states, with Massachusetts suffering the highest pandemic unemployment rate.

LATEST ON FLORIDA’S UNEMPLOYMENT PROBLEMS:

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