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Florida Overtakes California as Nation’s Jobless Claims Capital

Florida on Thursday reached a milestone that is anything but positive in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Our state overtook California for the most weekly unemployment claims in the nation.

At least 432,465 jobless claims were filed here for the week ended April 25, topping California’s 328,042 filings.

Some experts see the surge in Florida’s claims as a response to an improvement in the state’s ability to process them.

The Associated Press reported last week that almost seven in every eight Floridians who had filed claims during the three-week period from mid-March to the beginning of this month were still waiting to have them processed.

By comparison, California and Texas had about two-thirds of claims backlogged, while New York had about 30 percent of its claims left to be processed.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced in mid-April that Jonathan Satter, who had been the Secretary of Florida’s Department of Management Services, was taking over as head of the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity, to help improve processes for those who are filing.

The DEO also added 100 new servers and had 1,000 state employees shifted over to help expedite processing.

“A look at unemployment claims around the country by state strongly implies that there will be a surge in unemployment claims in two states: Texas and Florida,” Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US, explains.

He adds, “The collapse of the oil and energy complex in Texas will certainly cause a surge in claims, as well as in Florida, where widespread issues in processing so many claims will almost surely cause a jump in first-time claims over the next month.”

The Labor Department reported on Thursday that another 3.84 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing the nationwide total to more than 30 million since March.

Rounding out the list of states that have the most concentrated unemployment claims are Nevada, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Washington state and Alaska with 253, 251, 243, 222 and 207 per 1,000 workers, respectively.