Florida unemployment claims remain high, but our economy is undeniably on the rebound.
During the week ending on June 13, the number of first-time unemployment claims decreased by 23 percent from the previous week, falling from 112,161 to 86,298. The most recent statistics for Florida’s statewide unemployment rate are from April, when the state’s unemployment rate was 12.9 percent. As Florida continues with reopening, however, this figure will undoubtedly come down, as it has already begun to do in many states.
Our state elected officials have been working tirelessly to ensure that those who file claims are able to receive the benefits they need despite the record-breaking flood of unemployment claims the state has had to process in recent months. Many people are still waiting to receive benefits, but the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) just implemented a new system of weekly enhancements to improve performance and capacity to eliminate the backlog.
The national economy offers an encouraging preview into Florida’s future. Seasonally-adjusted new unemployment claims across the U.S. decreased to 1.48 million for the week ending June 20. That number is down from a revised total of 1.54 million new claims during the prior week, and though it remains high, this is a positive indication of an economic recovery in progress.
The national unemployment rate for the week ending June 13 stood at 13.4 percent, decreasing from the previous week’s unemployment rate of 13.9 percent. The number of unemployed people in the United States dropped from 20.29 million the prior week to 19.52 million, despite the continuing lockdowns in many states which are hindering the nascent economic recovery.
Those figures might not seem terribly encouraging at first glance, but it’s important to remember that a 0.5 percent drop in unemployment in a single week is absolutely unheard-of — it would be impressive if it took place over the course of an entire quarter!
Before the pandemic, the state’s unemployment rate stood at just 4.3 percent in March. Although the pandemic shook Florida’s economic foundations, Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump have shown determined and bold leadership in its wake. Their economic policies helped to lower Florida’s unemployment rate significantly prior to the coronavirus epidemic, and they’re replicating that feat on a much grander scale today.
DeSantis’ support for streamlining Florida’s occupational licensing regime, for instance, will be a significant boon to Florida’s job market and help to expedite our economic recovery by cutting some of the red tape that holds back many Floridians from improving their living conditions. In the words of DeSantis, these actions will “get the government out of the way and increase opportunity” by removing “unnecessary, burdensome regulations and barriers for Floridians looking to pursue their dreams.”
Some of the other measures supported as part of this “Deregu-thon” include decreasing the application fee for athlete agents by 50 percent, from $500 to $250, as well as simplifying electrical contractor licensing forms, eliminating the 21-day waiting period and 7-hour continuing education requirements for examination retakes for electrical contractors, and reducing the turnaround times for various licensing applications to just 48 hours. DeSantis also aims to implement an online, self-printing licensing system for many professions, including cosmetologists, certified public accountants, barbers, landscape architects, and more. And with a Republican-controlled state Legislature, it is very likely that these occupational licensing reforms will be signed into law in time to help struggling Floridians.
Meanwhile, Trump’s 2017 tax reform is allowing Floridians to keep more of their hard-earned money, with the typical family of four receiving nearly $2,000 worth of annual tax relief, and the average individual saving about $1,000 per year on their federal income tax bill. Meanwhile, the corporate tax cuts included in the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” led to a sustained nationwide hiring boom, creating intense competition for qualified workers that compelled employers to increase pay, benefits, and working conditions.
Florida Concrete Unlimited, for example, was able to “reinvest in the company” by providing pay raises and higher year-end bonuses for all its employees. And Florida’s AutoNation, Inc. was able to use some of its savings from the 2017 tax cut to double its match for employee 401(k) plans, and also expand the healthcare coverage they offer for both cancer patients and those whose spouses are affected by cancer.
These are just some of the success stories made possible by Trump’s economic policies, which helped to reduce national unemployment rates to a historic, 50-year low of 3.5 percent. Although the coronavirus has obviously been a massive setback to our country’s economic fortunes, with the continued steady leadership of Trump and like-minded governors such as DeSantis, our economic fortunes have nowhere to go but up.
Julio Gonzalez founded Engineered Tax Services.