Unemployment claims reach all-time high, proving that a stay-at-home order will tank Florida’s economy

by | Mar 26, 2020

New Data from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on Thursday is showing that states who implemented stay-at-home orders are seeing their economies crash, with unemployment claims rising in states that have shut down businesses not deemed “essential.”

Americans who have been out of work because of the coronavirus outbreak filed for unemployment in record numbers last week, with the DOL reporting nearly 3.3 million people nationally — an increase of over three million from the previous week.

The new numbers dwarf the fallout from the Great Recession that rose to 665,000 in March 2009 and shatter the all-time mark of 695,000 that occurred in October 1982.

Meanwhile, Florida also saw a dramatic increase, with a total of 74,021 people signing up for unemployment in the state — crushing the old record of 40,043 set in 2009. The new total was an astonishing leap from the 6,256 claims from the week of March 14.

And if the new data is any indication of things to come, it’ll only rise in the Sunshine state if Governor Ron DeSantis implements a stay-at-home order like New York and California have.

Thus far, DeSantis has chosen not to take drastic measures to shut down Florida’s economy, citing “every action has a reaction,” in a press conference earlier this week. As we pointed out on Tuesday, that pragmatic approach is justifiable, as shelter-in-place orders will lead to an economic collapse in each state and city.

While the claims in Florida are not small by any means, the number is reasonable compared to other states who have issued more extreme measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Thus far, over 200 million people in 21 states have issued some form of workplace restrictions as part of their efforts to prevent the spread of the disease.

People, of course, can still leave their homes for necessities — to go grocery shopping, go get gas, and go see a doctor. But the changes are fundamentally altering the marketplace, with businesses categorized as “non-essential” having to close their doors without knowing if they’ll ever get to open them again.

This radical approach by state governments is leading to a much bigger problem, with some believing that the cure to beat the pandemic is worse than the disease itself.

Of the 21 states to execute such orders, almost half have larger unemployment claims than Florida. Those states include California (186,809 claims), Illinois (114,663 claims), Massachusetts (147,995), Michigan (129,298 claims), Minnesota (116,438 claims), New Jersey (155,454 claims), New York (80,334 claims), Ohio (187,784 claims), and Washington (133,478 claims).

Of the states listed, only one — California — has a larger population (39,747,267) than Florida (21,646,155). Other states, like Illinois (12,659,682) and Michigan (10,045,029), have about half the population of Florida. While states like New Jersey (8,936,574) and Massachusetts (6,976,597) combined only makeup 70 percent of Florida’s population, but individually have double the unemployment claims that Florida has.

On top of that, states like Indiana and Louisiana are close to matching Florida’s claims, despite their lower populations — with each tallying 61,635 and 72,620 unemployment claims in the latest report.

Also worth noting, most of those are states that have ordered people to stay home have Democratic governors. Only six — Ohio, Indiana, Idaho, West Virginia, Massachusetts and Vermont — have Republican governors.

Though Democrats and detractors have called on DeSantis to be proactive to prevent the spread, many believe DeSantis has handled this situation with caution, carefully considering lives and livelihoods during this difficult time.

While the goal remains to minimize the spread of the virus and flatten the curve, equally important is to balance one of the largest economies in the world where small businesses are the lifeblood of the state — making up over 99 percent of all businesses in the state.

A massive overreach could lead to an economic fallout that Florida may never recover from.


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