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Florida has its first unemployment increase of 2023

Wilton Simpson to the left, at a table during a news conference
Daniel Wallace/Tampa General Hospital
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Courtesy
Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, left, a Republican who had defended the E-Verify system as a way to help stem the tide of undocumented workers and drugs reaching Florida after crossing the Mexican border, recently said the law could have “unintended consequences” on the construction and leisure and hospitality industries.

The estimated 295,000 Floridians out of work in mid-July is an increase of around 5,000 from the previous month.

Florida posted its first unemployment-rate uptick of the year in July.

The state Department of Commerce on Friday said the unemployment rate in July was 2.7 percent, up from a 2.6 percent rate that had remained the same since January. The department estimated 295,000 Floridians were out of work in mid-July, up 5,000 from a month earlier.

Also, the labor force grew by 42,000 to 11.08 million in July.

Lindsay Volpe, deputy secretary of the department’s Division of Workforce Services, said increases in employment and unemployment signal a healthy labor market, which continues to grow and attract new workers.

“Florida’s unemployment rate remains well below historical levels and is not far from the state’s all-time low rate of 2.4 percent,” Volpe said during a conference call with reporters. “With Florida being one of the largest states in the nation, and having the lowest unemployment rate among the largest states, we don’t anticipate our unemployment rate changing very much.”

In the conference call, department officials did not address the impacts of a new state immigration law that took effect July 1 or a rise in unemployment rates in rural counties in July.

The new law (SB 1718) includes changes such as requiring businesses with more than 25 employees to use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of workers.

ALSO READ: Florida's economy outpaces U.S. with jobs, growth - and, yes, higher inflation

Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, a Republican who had defended the law as a way to help stem the tide of undocumented workers and drugs reaching Florida after crossing the Mexican border, recently said the law could have “unintended consequences” on the construction and leisure and hospitality industries.

Migrant workers and advocates have filed a federal lawsuit challenging part of the law that makes it a felony to transport into the state people who enter the country illegally. Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that part of the law is too vague.

In addressing Friday’s employment figures, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office credited economic policies under DeSantis for private-sector growth in Florida that is faster than the nation’s pace.

The national unemployment rate stood at 3.5 percent in July.

Leisure and hospitality jobs, mostly tied to food service and lodging, were the only commercial sector to post a decline in Florida in July.

Visit Florida, the state’s tourism-marketing agency, on Thursday reported a slight dip in tourism numbers during the second quarter of this year compared to a year earlier, pointing in part to increased competition from other states and countries that shut down longer than Florida during the pandemic.

The state’s unemployment rate was also 2.7 percent in July 2022.

Across the state, the Southeast Florida region, from Miami to West Palm Beach, had the lowest unemployment rate last month at 2.6 percent. Within that region, the Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall area was at 1.9 percent.

The statewide unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted, while regional rates are not adjusted.

The Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin area was at 2.7 percent and the Panama City region was at 2.8 percent.

The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater regions were at 3.1 percent. The Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent and Jacksonville areas were each at 3.2 percent.

Metro areas in Southwest Florida, from Bradenton to Naples, were also at 3.2 percent.

The highest unemployment rates were in the Sebring area at 4.7 percent; the Homosassa Springs area at 4.6 percent; and The Villages area at 4.3 percent.