West Palm Beach, Fla. (April 17, 2020) – March’s unemployment rate of 4.4 percent for Palm Beach County represents the first official measure of the initial employment impact of the COVID-19 crisis, but doesn’t reflect the current reality of anticipated record unemployment, according to the latest monthly reports released today by CareerSource Palm Beach County and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (all numbers not seasonally adjusted).

The March statistics reflect some of the early effects of the COVID-19 and efforts to contain it. The March survey reference period that includes the week of the 12th predated many COVID-19 related business and school closures that occurred in the second half of the month.

The county’s rate for March was higher than the year ago rate of 3.3 percent and the 3.0 percent unemployment rate in February. The only bright spot – the county’s rate remained below the 4.5 percent national rate, continuing a 3-year streak in which the county’s rate has stayed below or matched the national rate. Florida’s rate is 4.3 percent.  The county’s highest unemployment rate reached nearly 12 percent during the so-called Great Recession in summer 2010. Ironically, the county’s record low unemployment rate — 2.7 percent — occurred in Dec. 2019.

In another measure of the COVID-19 impact, today’s reports show 18,867 unemployment/reemployment assistance claims applicants from Palm Beach County and 243,122 applicants processed statewide by the Florida Dept. of Economic Opportunity to date.

“The reality is that we are facing unprecedented record high unemployment at national, state and local levels,” said Julia Dattolo, interim president and CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County, the nonprofit organization chartered by the state to lead workforce development in Palm Beach County.  “That said, we are hopeful the impact will be short-term and we expect staggered starts to reopen our local economy beginning in May.”

She added that while CareerSource staff is working remotely to serve its customers, a reopening plan is in place so that the organization is ready to serve expected record levels of job seekers and employers in person beginning with appointments. Until then, staff members are serving customers remotely via emails, online and phone communications as well as website and social media channels. Staff members currently are handling up to 1,700 emails and 1,400 calls from customers daily.

Virtual Career Expo April 22:  CareerSource Palm Beach is holding a Virtual Career Expo on Wednesday, April 22 in partnership with Palm Beach Tech help connect job seekers with employers that have immediate hiring needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants can connect with tech talent and hiring managers LIVE and apply for open positions. More information is available at:

More Virtual Services Available:  Why not take the time to explore your next career opportunity right from home? The Virtual Career System (VCS) is available from the organization’s home page at

“Our online Virtual Career System is available 24/7 to serve job seekers, employers and students right from their homes via computer or mobile device,” Julia said.

Specifically, the VCS is available to:

  • Guide job seekers through their job search campaign, including creating a professional resume and posting it on the Employ Florida statewide jobs database, preparing for job interviews and conducting online job, industry and employer research.
  • Connect employers with talent, including posting/managing job openings, searching for talent and using the virtual recruiter feature, exploring wage/salary information and how to apply for employee training grants.
  • Introduce students to career interests and options, including identifying and building on skills to explore career and educational opportunities.

Services for Employers Available: The CareerSource Business Services staff can connect your business with qualified candidates for your job openings – at no cost to you. Contact us at or call 561.340.1060 and select option 3. Also included on the website is information about 7 financial assistance programs for businesses.

CareerSource is continuing to monitor information updates from national, state and local sources regarding the coronavirus outbreak.  Updates on services and operations are posted on the organization’s website at

During the past five program years, CareerSource Palm Beach County assisted 80,500 residents find employment ranging from entry level to executive suite, with salaries from these jobs creating $1.85 billion in annual wages. CareerSource also awarded $23 million in grants to area businesses and employees for job training and educational assistance during that time.

Next monthly employment reports for Florida and Palm Beach County: State and local employment reports for April are scheduled for release on May 22.