ORLANDO, Fla. — The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released state unemployment numbers for April and May. Those numbers, though hardly shocking, are still stunning.

What You Need To Know

  • Read the full report from the DEO

  • Orlando region saw largest jump in unemployment

  • Private sector rate of decline lower than national rate

  • State should by law extend benefits once unemployment rate tops 5%

The agency reports Florida's unemployment rate tripled to 12.9 percent from 4.4 percent in March. The Orlando region saw the highest jump with 16.2 percent. Other areas of Florida fared little better:

  • Fort Lauderdale: 14.5
  • West Palm Beach: 13.9
  • Tampa: 13.1
  • Pensacola: 12
  • Miami: 11.9
  • Jacksonville: 11.2

DEO also reports the state's labor force is down 893,000 — 8.6 percent — over the same period.

In the private sector, Florida businesses lost 989,600 private-sector jobs since the start of 2020. Florida's private-sector over-the-year rate of decline — 12.7 percent — was actually less than the national rate of decline over the same period, which was 14.6 percent.

Finally, Florida's Consumer Sentiment Index, which is a measure of consumer confidence, fell from 87.1 to 75.9 from March to April.

So based on those numbers, what can Floridians look forward to?

When the state unemployment rate reaches above 5 percent, Florida is supposed to extend the duration of unemployment benefits beyond the standard 12 weeks. An additional week is added for every 0.5 percent increase to the unemployment rate above 5 percent, to a maximum of 23 weeks.

However, legislation put in place in 2011 states any such extension would not have to go into effect until the third fiscal quarter, or October 2020.

DeSantis urged to make pandemic compensation available

State Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando said these new unemployment numbers are unfortunately not surprising.

Eskamani said current legislation makes extending unemployment now not possible without an executive order.

"Florida statute does allow for extension of weeks of regular unemployment compensation based on the unemployment rate, but the statute also declares that extension can only take place the third quarter of wages which would be October 2020," Eskamani said.

She's urging DEO and Gov. Ron DeSantis to make Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation available to help those approaching the end of their current benefits.

"PEUC is one of the three unemployment plans provided under the CARES Act that would allow there to be an additional 13 weeks of unemployment for those that are benefiting from state unemployment compensation," Eskamani said.

Stephanie Sanchez of Cocoa Beach is one of the thousands of Floridians still waiting for unemployment benefits.

"(I'm) Uber driving, and I saw it slowing down," Sanchez said.

She's decided to make changes in her life and go back to school. 

"Now I want to go into legal studies and fight for justice," Sanchez said.

She's hoping to encourage those alongside her who are waiting for financial relief.

Kevin Hassett, a senior economic adviser to President Donald Trump, says national unemployment numbers for May could be over 20 percent.

To read DEO's full unemployment report, visit http://www.floridajobs.org/workforce-statistics/workforce-statistics-data-releases/monthly-data-releases.

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