Unemployment in Palm Beach County hit a record high of 13.9 percent in April, a huge spike from the county’s 3 percent jobless rate in April 2019.

Unemployment in Palm Beach County hit a record high of 13.9 percent in April, a huge spike from the county’s 3 percent jobless rate in April 2019.

Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate reached a record high of 13.9 percent in April, a point above the state average of 12.9 percent, and a disturbing figure reflecting the harsh employment impact of the coronavirus crisis, according to the latest monthly reports released today by CareerSource Palm Beach County and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

“We knew it would be bad but we were hoping it wasn’t going to be a record,” said Tom Veenstra, vice president of Career Source Palm Beach County, the nonprofit organization chartered by the state to lead workforce development in Palm Beach County.

In another sign of the dramatic job losses, CareerSource Palm Beach County reported employers seeking workers dropped by more than 70 percent in April compared to January.

“Hopefully, the impact will be short term,” Veenstra added.

Outside of the Great Depression, the county’s previous highest unemployment rate reached nearly 12 percent during the Great Recession in summer 2010. The only bright spot in Friday’s data – the county’s rate remained below the 14.7 percent national rate.

The numbers are shocking, not only for the staggering number of jobless they represent – 91,134 in Palm Beach County and 1.2 million workers statewide – but also the speed at which they climbed. In April 2019, the county’s jobless rate was 3 percent.

Most job losses in the county occurred in the Leisure/Hospitality, Professional/Business Services and Trade/Transportation/Utilities industry sectors. Only one sector – Financial Activities – gained jobs, 300 over the year.

Today’s reports show 76,629 unemployment/reemployment assistance claims applicants from Palm Beach County and 1,544,904 applicants processed statewide by the Florida Dept. of Economic Opportunity to date out of more than 2 million submitted claims.

Statewide, Lafayette County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate 5.5 percent and Osceola County had the highest at 20.3 percent.

CareerSource Palm Beach County this week launched a new ‘Help Is Here’ web portal to assist job seekers and employers in their efforts to access assistance needed for recovery. The new web portal can be accessed from the organization’s home page at www.careersourcepbc.com.

Applications also start today for Palm Beach County’s $60 million Business Restart Program to accelerate the reopening of businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The county has dedicated $50 million toward businesses with 25 or fewer employees and $10 million toward businesses with more than 25 employees. Criteria and an application can be found at https://pbcgov.com/hes

The CareerSource Business Services staff connects employers with qualified candidates at no cost. They can be contacted at www.careersourcepbc.com or call 561.340.1060 and select option 3.

Cstapleton@pbpost.com

@StapletonPBPost



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