TAMPA BAY, Fla. — There is some reason for tempered optimism in the workforce this Labor Day 2020.

Nationally, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 percent last week, and local experts say there are signs the rate in Tampa and St. Petersburg may be even lower.

What You Need To Know

  • CEO of CareerSource says there is work available for people looking for it

  • He says consumer confidence, local unemployment rate are tied together

Local unemployment date usually lags a month behind national numbers.

"I think everybody needs to be optimistic right now. There's a lot of employment available for folks that are looking," said John Flanagan, CEO of CareerSource Tampa Bay.

Flanagan says the unemployment rate in the Tampa area was less than 3 percent in February, before coronavirus restrictions went into place.  

Almost overnight the local unemployment rate jumped to almost 20 percent.

Since then, it has been a slow climb to getting people back to work.

Flanagan says the local unemployment rate is directly tied to consumer confidence because thousands of jobs are tied to the hospitality and tourism sector.

Although there has been an increase in tourism and better occupancy rates at local resorts and hotels in recent months, many people are still being more conservative in travel and discretionary spending.

"We'll see what happens with COVID as it relates to whether a vaccine is ready by the beginning of the year like they are saying, and what that does to drive the economy," Flanagan said.

CareerSource Tampa Bay is working closely with Hillsborough County on the R3 Rapid Response Recovery Assistance program.

Officials say the program has assisted around 50,000 unemployed workers since coronavirus restrictions went into place, with most of those calls helping recently unemployed workers navigate Florida's complex unemployment assistance program.

With most workers now receiving benefits, CareerSource officials said it is now transitioning to bigger numbers of people looking to get back into the workforce.

For more information on assistance available if you are unemployed, visit CareerSourceTampaBay.com.

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