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Florida unemployment

An unemployment application
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Congress is facing a deadline to extend unemployment benefits for people out of work due to the pandemic. Those payments have made a big impact in Florida.  

After four hours of arguments Monday, a Leon County circuit judge will decide whether to move forward with a potential class-action lawsuit stemming from massive problems in Florida’s unemployment-compensation system.

Attorneys for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Deloitte Consulting, a contractor that helped put the online system in place in 2013, argued that Judge John Cooper should dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed after a crush of coronavirus-caused unemployment claims overwhelmed the system this spring.

Unemployment claim form
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Florida had a slight uptick in first-time jobless claims last week, as the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday reported 1.48 million initial unemployment applications nationally.

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More than 86,000 Floridians applied for new jobless benefits last week.

Braving the mid-morning heat, a small group of protesters gathered at the Historic Capitol Wednesday, to tell Florida leadership the state’s unemployment system still needs fixing.

When Judy Tanzosch was furloughed from her job in March, she started trying to apply for benefits on the state’s CONNECT system.

“My situation, I applied on March 27, or I started to apply – and it took 45 days for me to be able to actually get the application completed in CONNECT, because the CONNECT system would consistently boot me out in various stages of the process,” Tanzosch told WFSU.

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking during a news conference
WFSU

Gov. Ron DeSantis dismissed as partisan a request Monday by two Democratic U.S. senators for a federal investigation related to Florida’s handling of unemployment benefits.

Host Matthew Peddie (on right half of the screenshot) speaks with Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel (on left half of the screenshot).
The State We're In/Facebook / WMFE and WUSF Public Media

Legoland officially reopened Monday and it offered some clues about what theme park fans might expect in the post-pandemic world.

Reporter Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel visited the Winter Haven park and says it's a lot like other businesses that are trying to minimize the spread of coronavirus.

Updated at 9:38 a.m. ET

More than 1 in 4 U.S. workers have lost their jobs since the coronavirus crisis shut down much of the economy in March.

Just last week, another 2.1 million people filed for unemployment benefits, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's down 323,000 from the previous week but brings the total for the past 10 weeks to 40.8 million, which represents 26% of the civilian labor force in April.

One out of every three applications for unemployment in Florida has been deemed ineligible to get relief. Are the people applying for the support to blame, or is the trouble with the state’s unemployment system?

The U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday that Florida’s unemployment rate in April was 12.9%, higher than during the Great Recession. 

A data breach has occurred at Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity. The Department says it notified individuals that were part of the incident associated with unemployment claims. Exactly how many people are impacted has not been released.

In a letter to the department's head, Dem. Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) asked how many people are affected, what information was released, how the breach occurred, and what is being done to make sure it won't happen again.

Unemployment claim form
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The number of Floridians who filed new unemployment claims last week remained almost unchanged from the previous week.

Gov. Ron DeSantis at the podium
WFSU

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that most remaining unsettled claims in the state’s heavily criticized unemployment system are due to incomplete applications.

As jobless rates skyrocket, filing for unemployment benefits in Florida can feel like a seemingly impossible task. Many filers have reported website crashes and several hours spent waiting on hold. Governor Ron DeSantis has added more workers, new servers, and made other changes to the system in an attempt to address the issues. Now as some unemployed Floridians are finalizing their applications, they’re turning their focus to another issue – getting approved for those benefits.

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Another 221,000 Floridians filed for unemployment benefits last week, even as restaurants and retail shops started re-opening with limitations for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic forced the shuttering of businesses around the state.

Updated at 5:19 p.m. ET

Nearly 3 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week — bringing the total to 36.5 million in the past eight weeks, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The number of people filing claims has been steadily dropping for weeks, since hitting nearly 7 million during one week in March. Still, claims remain at historically high levels, suggesting that the coronavirus isn't done pummeling the U.S. economy.

A woman in black shirt sits at a computer
Taynisha Berenguer

Last week, Hillsborough County Social Services opened up a special call center, designed to help people who lost their jobs or had their pay cut due to the coronavirus pandemic. The county had $15 million in federal funds to distribute, and eligible callers could get help paying two months of mortgage or rent, plus one month of utilities. The call center ran out of money within four days, and has since closed down.

Calls were answered by public library employees like Taynisha Berenguer, who says even though she’s accustomed to people asking her all kinds of questions in her usual role, answering the Social Services line during the COVID-19 pandemic was quite an education.

Hundreds of thousands laid-off workers who can’t get their unemployment money from the state of Florida got more bad news Wednesday. A state judge says she had no authority to order the immediate payment of jobless claims.

Governor Ron DeSantis has called it “a jalopy” and “a clunker,” and says it was “in tatters.” He’s talking, of course, about Florida’s online system for handling claims for unemployment benefits, which cost taxpayers $78 million and still doesn’t work right.

 


This week Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his Phase One reopening plan, which will take effect across most of the state (with tighter restrictions remaining in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, where over half the confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths are located) on Monday, May 4.

Updated at 8:38 a.m. ET

The telephone lines are still jammed at the nation's unemployment offices.

Another 3.8 million people filed claims for jobless benefits last week, according to the Labor Department. While that's down from the previous week's 4.4 million, a staggering 30.3 million have applied for unemployment in the six weeks since the coronavirus began taking a wrecking ball to the U.S. job market.

That's roughly one out of five people who had a job in February.

Florida Democrats want federal auditors to investigate the state’s flawed unemployment system and a backlog they say ranks among the worst in the country.

Unemployment claim form
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Rushing to reduce a massive backlog of claims created as businesses shuttered due to the coronavirus, Florida’s unemployment agency announced Friday that it has now processed more than 31 percent of unemployment claims, with payments of up to $275 a week going out to 22 percent of the applicants.

Library worker, wearing mask, handing out unemployment form
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM/FACEBOOK

Libraries around the Tampa Bay area are offering paper unemployment forms to people who don’t have access to a printer.

(Updated at 10:45 a.m. Thurs., April 23, with Sarasota County information)

Unemployment claim form
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Florida has processed its hundreds of thousands of new unemployment claims more slowly than any other state.

unemployment application
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Florida’s unemployment rate shot up to 4.3% in March, as coronavirus-induced closures of Florida’s theme parks, hotels and large numbers of businesses caused the highest levels of joblessness in almost two years.

In an effort to speed the processing of an enormous backlog of unemployment claims in Florida’s system, Governor Ron DeSantis has waived a requirement that recipients recertify their status.

Updated at 8:43 a.m. ET

The number of people filing for unemployment climbed by another 5.2 million last week as the toll of the nation's economic dive amid the pandemic continues to mount. That number is down from the revised 6.6 million in the week that ended April 4, the Labor Department said.

But in the past four weeks, a total of 22 million have filed jobless claims — nearly wiping out all the job gains since the Great Recession.

Empty hotel parking lot
Maria Tsyruleva

Hotels in Florida that typically would be packed for spring break and the promise of summer have become ghost towns during the coronavirus pandemic.

Unemployment claim form
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First-time unemployment claims this week appear headed toward a record.

During a mid-day appearance Friday in Jacksonville, Gov. Ron DeSantis said 225,755 initial claims had been filed this week.

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