By Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.4% in August, a sharp decline from July, when it was 11.4%, according to state statistics released Friday.

Jobless claims are still high, however, as Floridians and businesses attempt to inch back to economic health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Florida gained 57,500 jobs last month, the Department of Economic Opportunity announced. Florida lost 1,178,100 jobs from February to April 2020 and has since gained back over half of the jobs lost, officials said.

Economic activity is still stunted by the continuing virus outbreak, even as bars reopen in parts of the state and schools attempt to resume an in-person, normal schedule.

The state’s service and tourism sectors have been especially hard hit because people are not traveling as much, and the coming months look rocky. Nowhere is that effect felt more than in the Orlando area, which had the highest regional unemployment rate in the state in August at 11%.



Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort announced Friday that it would lay off about 1,100 employees because of low occupancy and canceled events in another hit to the tourism industry because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Paperwork filed with the state this week showed 5,400 Universal employees are furloughed and 1,900 employees at SeaWorld’s Orlando properties are now permanently laid off after being furloughed since March.

The Swan and Dolphin warned the economic impact will carry over into 2021, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The 1,136 positions are in multiple departments of the hotel, including 256 banquet servers, 41 cooks, 67 housekeepers and 88 loss prevention officers. The notice said the layoffs are permanent and effective Nov. 13.

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