Economy’s dark cloud during pandemic threatens capoeira studio in Broward

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Maria Hernandez lives and breaths capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines acrobatics and dance. She devoted her business to teaching the practice and she ran a nonprofit to help children and teenagers in need get lessons.

The coronavirus pandemic triggered a recession that has risked her Broward studio’s existence. Hernandez, a capoeira instructor with competitive experience, doesn’t give up easily, but she has been struggling to pay the rent.

“We went from having 60 children here a month to being able to hold no more than 20,” said Hernandez, also known as “Venus” in the capoeira community.

Hernandez said her landlord told her that if she couldn’t renew the lease, she had to move out. The organization, she said, doesn’t qualify for federal aid such as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program loans. She has no idea how the capoeira studio is going to survive.

Hernandez said there is a need for more government aid. With a slow start to the COVID-19 vaccines campaign, economists’ outlook for this year isn’t hopeful.

Claims for unemployment benefits in Florida increased to 57,824 for the week ending Jan. 23, according to the US. Department of Labor.

Florida was among the largest increases in initial claims in the country for the week ending Jan. 16 with 8,643 more. Unemployment claims increased Florida’s unemployment rate was 6.1% in December and experienced a loss of 419,200 jobs since December 2019.

Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled his proposed $96.6 billion budget 2021-22 fiscal year, which includes $50 million for a job growth grant fund “to support local infrastructure and job training projects targeted towards economic recovery and development.”

The U.S. Congress has yet to approve President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package. Businesses are closing and layoffs haven’t stopped. Consumer spending has slowed.

Rising unemployment continues to be a problem in Florida. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

Economic indicators

  • The U.S. Labor Department reported there were more than 847,000 applications for unemployment benefits. There were 914,000 the week before.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported gross job losses from closing and contracting private-sector establishments were 20.4 million.
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis’ data on Gross Domestic Product, which is ranked as one of the three most influential economic measures that affect U.S. financial markets, reported a 5% annual rate contraction. It also showed a record-shattering 31.4% annual plunge in the April-June quarter.
  • The housing market is thriving because of low mortgage rates, and the U.S. Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday there is a commitment to keeping the rates low.

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