Hendry County has highest unemployment in state

On April 17, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced Florida’s March 2020 employment data. This month, Florida saw expected changes in employment and unemployment data due to COVID-19 and the state’s effort to mitigate the spread.

Florida Economic Indicators include:

• Unemployment rate increased to 4.3 percent.

• Labor force was down 120,000 over the month, but increased over the year with 76,000 Floridians entering the work force.

• The number of private-sector jobs in Florida decreased by 37,300, down 0.5 percent from February 2020.

• Florida businesses created 114,100 private-sector jobs over the year.

• The annual private-sector job growth rate of 1.5 percent outpaced the national job growth rate of 1.0 percent.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and DEO are encouraging businesses to utilize state and federal resources currently available to Florida businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering many federal loan programs to small businesses throughout the nation. For a comprehensive overview of all federal and state resources available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, please visit Floridajobs.org/COVID-19.

According to the preliminary report issued April 17 by the U.S. Department of Labor, Hendry County had the highest unemployment rate in the state at 6.7%. Jobless rates for other counties in the South Central Florida region included: Highlands County, 6.1%; Glades County 5.0%; Okeechobee County, 4.2%; Collier, 4.0%; Palm Beach County, 4.4%.

The state’s unemployment website was overwhelmed by the number of claims due to businesses closed in wake of the pandemic. The DOE is accepting paper applications, which can be downloaded at floridajobs.org.

Unemployment applications may also be picked up at the following locations:

• Okeechobee Public Library, 206 S.W. 16th St, Okeechobee;

• Okeechobee ReEMPLOYment Services Center, 209 S.W. Park Street, Okeechobee;

• Glades County Public Library, 201 Riverside Drive, Moore Haven;

• Clewiston Career Center, 215B S. Francisco Street, Clewiston;

• Belle Glade library, 725 N.W. Fourth St., Belle Glade

• LaBelle Career Center, 921 Anvil Way, LaBelle.

Paper unemployment applications in English, Spanish and Creole are also available to pick up at FedEx Office Centers.

Applications can be returned by mail or dropped off at participating FedEx Office Centers.

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