Pinellas County unemployment rate jumps to 13.9% in April

Florida and the United States’ unemployment rates skyrocketed in April 2020 due to effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The effects of COVID-19 were illustrated in grim fashion when the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released its unemployment report on May 22.

Pinellas County’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April skyrocketed to 13.9%, beating the previous record high of 11.5% set in January 2010.

According to DEO, 63,981 were unemployed in Pinellas compared to only 20,577 in March and 13,757 in April 2019.

The unemployment rate in March was 4.1% and 2.8% in April last year.

The county’s labor force dropped to 460,388 compared to 497,772 last month and 486,412 in April last year.

The state’s unemployment rate jumped to 13.3% compared to 4.3% in March and 2.9% in April 2019. More than 1.24 million were reportedly without a job. The U.S. rate increased to 14.4%, up from 4.5% in March and 3.3% in April last year. More than 22.5 million were unemployed.

April’s unemployment rate for the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area was up to 13.1% compared to 4.3% last month and 3% in April 2019. The number of unemployed was up to 187,052, up from 68,105 without a job in March.

All 24 of the state’s metro areas had over-the-year job losses. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford lost the most, 181,000 jobs, followed by Miami-Miami Beach Kendall, reporting the loss of 145,900 jobs, and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, had the third most losses, 129,300.

In March, the local MSA was No.1 for the most over the year job gains, adding 27,000 new jobs.

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA ranked No. 14 among the state’s 24 metro areas. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford MSA ranked No. 1 with the highest unemployment rate of 16.2%. Tallahassee MSA ranked No. 24 with the lowest rate 8.1%.

The local MSA includes Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Pinellas tied with Pasco and Palm Beach counties for the rank of No. 16 among the state’s counties. Hillsborough County ranked No. 30 with an unemployment rate of 12%. Hernando ranked No. 7 with a rate of 15%.

Osceola County ranked No. 1 with the highest unemployment rate in the state of 20.3%. Lafayette County ranked No. 67 with a rate of 5.5%.

Reemployment assistance

According to the DEO, 775,806 claims for unemployment had been filed through its Connect system between March 15 and May 21. Another 1.326 million had been filed through paper or the state’s mobile-friendly site.

Of those that have filed, the state says 927,268 are eligible for state unemployment, 120,028 for federal pandemic unemployment assistance and 366,427 were ineligible.

As of May 21, 996,045 had been paid including 75,217 eligible for federal unemployment.

DEO says thus far nearly $2.75 billion in unemployment has been paid to those who have applied.

In Pinellas, 54,711 have applied for benefits, 11.1% of the labor force. The largest number of claims was from applicants who did not give an industry, 17,192. The next highest was from those employed in the accommodation and food service industry with 10,717 claims.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at