TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida jobs keep growing.
May marked 13 consecutive months of job increases following the economic shutdown, state economists reported Friday. Florida gained 36,000 private-sector jobs over the last month. Most were in the transportation and hospitality industries.
Unemployment did not change much. The rate increased a tenth to 4.9%. Economists believed the small rise was likely tied to the unemployed reentering the job market. The rate remained below the nation's 5.8%.
Adrienne Johnston, the Department of Economic Opportunity's chief economist, said Florida looked to be recovering at a faster pace than previous recessions.
"We are certainly seeing strong growth, and it continues to get stronger every month," Johnston said. "I think that that's a positive sign and there's nothing pointing to that slowing anytime soon."
The DEO also reported businesses continued to struggle filling positions. More than 500,000 jobs were available across the state, posted online.
Rob Bazemore, who owns Metro Deli in Tallahassee, said his typical application pile had all but dried up.
"It's been a little different these days," he said. "We don't have as many people walking in and looking for jobs these days."
Those he does have on the clock have had to step up in the interim.
"They've all picked up more hours, more shifts," Bazemore said. "It's definitely wearing them thin."
Come June 26, officials planned to withdraw early from the federal government program providing weekly $300 unemployment benefit boosts. DEO Director Dane Eagle believes the move will drive more claimants back to work.
Unemployed and labor unions have said it is too soon to leave. Some seeking work told WPTV recently they have yet to find adequate employment to pay their bills.
Florida AFL-CIO launched a campaign earlier this month to delay the withdrawal until its scheduled expiration in September. The union created an online petition which has gathered more than 5,000 signatures to date.
“Why would the (Gov. Ron) DeSantis administration leave this money on the table when we are in such a dire economic situation?" AFL-CIO Politics Director Rich Templin said. "This is politics. This is the governor catering to the false narrative that has been created by businesses who want to starve people out and try to force them to take incredibly low-wage part-time work."
At least 25 states have decided to end the unemployment boost early. All of them are GOP-controlled.