The unemployment rate in Florida has been among the lowest in the country before Hurricane Ian – which rocked the state as a Category 4 storm – wreaked havoc, destroying homes and businesses and displacing many Floridians.
The U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh says it's "hard to say" if there will be an impact on the unemployment rate in the coming months.
Aside from that, Walsh says his department is ready to help once he "gets the green light to go in," adding: "We need to do everything we can to get the people of Florida help ... and get them back up and running as quickly as possible."
"First and foremost, my concern is making sure that we tend to the people in Florida who lost loved ones and that that lost their home and lost everything," he added.
Ian was the third-deadliest storm to hit the U.S. behind Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy; The storm has been blamed for more than 100 deaths, mostly in southwest Florida.
"We'll figure out the jobs numbers next month, if that's the case, but I'd much prefer to make sure we put our resources, and the president's been clear on this into supporting the folks in Florida," Walsh added.
According to figures released by the Labor Department last week, the country's unemployment rate nationally fell to 3.5% in September, tying a half-century low. That data was collected before Hurricane Ian made landfall on Sept. 28.
The unemployment rate for metropolitan Cape Coral and Fort Myers, near where the storm made landfall, was 2.7% in August, the most recent month for which data is avilable. The statewide rate was the same.
Brian Gendreau, a Clinical Professor of Finance at the University of Florida's Warrington College of Business, said that while short-term impacts can be devastating to impacted areas, in the long term, there's typically an increase in construction activity, which can spur employment.
When “the insurance money starts coming in, then there's an increase in construction activity," Gendreau told Spectrum News.
Gendreau pointed to estimates he's seen from Hurricane Andrew, which made landfall back in the 90s, damaging 63,000 homes and leaving 65 people dead. Those estimates were "net positive for growth" but Gendreau said recovery efforts took a year and a half.
It is unclear, how south Florida's economy will rebound following the aftermath of Hurricane Ian but the state-by-state breakdown of unemployment in September is to be released a week from Friday.
It will be another month before the unemployment numbers for October are revealed. Those numbers likely will be the first to detail any effect of Ian on jobs and the economy.