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Tampa Bay regains thousands of jobs despite 14.5 percent unemployment rate

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jun 19, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay area has regained jobs faster than anywhere else in Florida in May with more than 38,000 jobs.

That’s with a state unemployment rate rising from 13.8% in April to 14.5% last month.

But for many, 2020 has been a financial nightmare.

“We are not recovering like everybody thinks we are,” said Haper, who went 10 weeks without a single dime of income or an unemployment check from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the state's unemployment system.

The May labor stats were announced virtually for the first time Friday.

“One of the challenges that we’ve had with the labor statistics over the last three months is that some of the furloughs that were initially identified as temporary layoffs may be more permanent and we don’t have statistics on that,” said Adrienne Johnston, the Florida DEO Chief of the Bureau of Labor Market stats.

Haper’s job is gone. She says it’s been outsourced for budget reasons and now she is on the hunt for something new which has proven to be very difficult.

“Places that have reopened are closing again, the cases are skyrocketing again,” said Haper. “Finding a job that pays more than minimum wage is almost impossible.”

And as COVID-19 cases skyrocket, businesses have closed their doors again out of precaution.

“The bottom line is nobody is ready to hire back at full staff. Everybody is so unsure,” Haper said.

That is a sobering realization, as Haper nears the end of the maximum 12 weeks of state unemployment. Her next step is applying for the federal extension.

“With the disaster, I dealt with before, I’m scared to death of what kind of disaster I’ll have to deal with moving forward to apply for the additional 13 weeks,” she said.

A spot hit hard by job growth is Orlando where hospitality jobs are not as quick to bounce back. It was the only metro area that reported a loss of about 56,000 jobs in May.