First-time unemployment claims in Florida continued at a low, steady pace last week, though a university report pointed to many residents being pessimistic about their finances.
The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday estimated 5,521 initial jobless claims were filed in Florida last week, down from 6,052 during the week that ended Oct. 21.
Nationally, 217,000 claims were filed last week, up 5,000 from the week that ended Oct. 21.
Florida has averaged 6,069 claims over the past four weeks and 5,824 since the start of the year. While unemployment claims have been relatively unchanged, the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research said Monday that consumer sentiment in Florida inched down for a second consecutive month.
Hector Sandoval, the bureau’s economic analysis program director, said consumer sentiment remains low despite a decline in inflation, a surprisingly resilient labor market and economic growth that has consistently outperformed expectations.
“In fact, the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 4.9 percent in the third quarter of 2023, driven by increased consumer spending and inventory investment,” Sandoval said. “Yet, consumer sentiment among Floridians has remained persistently low, making 2023 poised to be the third-lowest year in terms of consumer sentiment since records have been available.”
Higher levels of pessimism were found among people younger than 60 and people with annual incomes under $50,000.
“Pessimism among Floridians regarding their current financial situation compared with a year ago and their expectations about the national economy over the next year indicates that they may be more cautious in their spending habits in the months ahead,” Sandoval said. “However, the continued resilience in the labor market and consumer spending provides a positive signal for retailers as they approach the holiday shopping season.”
Florida had a 2.8 percent unemployment rate in September.
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