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Unemployment Figures Are A Sad Reminder That DeSantis Must Raise Unemployment Benefits Now!

On April 23, the Department of Labor (DOL) reported 4,427,000 seasonally adjusted new unemployment claims had been filed last week and the four week average to 5,786,500.

This brings new unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic to roughly 26 million. The DOL also reported that the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate – percent of the workforce receiving benefits — was 11.0 percent. This marks the highest rate in history. At the same time, DOL reported Florida received 505,137 new unemployment claims.

Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, called out DeSantis’s mismanaged handling of the unemployment system:

“These numbers are a reminder that we are in an employment crisis. Florida’s government must act to expand benefits and expand access to unemployment assistance. Governor Ron DeSantis isn’t doing nearly enough to help Florida’s struggling workers. If DeSantis was serious about this crisis he and his Republican allies would get to work on a legislative fix for Florida’s broken unemployment system. Until then, Floridians will tragically continue to suffer needless economic hardship. Governor, the time to act is now!”

Calls for a legislative fix continue to grow: Calls mount for legislative reforms for the state’s unemployment system. Last week, Deputy Leader Rep. Margaret Good was among a growing number of Democratic leaders that called for a special legislative session to address the unemployment crisis.

Florida’s unemployment system continues to fail: New weekly unemployment claims represent people that are hurting every day as a result of pandemic layoffs. Behind each number is a family struggling to make it through this painful period. And they are a reminder that Florida’s stingy unemployment system is in need of immediate reform to provide the relief necessary for Floridians.

On April 20, The Tampa Bay Times reported that from March 15 through April 19, Florida’s unemployment system received 1.5 million claims and only dispersed new payments to 40,183 Floridians. The Times also reported that the state has rejected one in four of the claims that have been processed so far.

Florida’s maximum unemployment benefit is only $275 per week for 12 weeks — one of the lowest maximum benefit amounts in the nation. On April 6, DeSantis announced more servers would be used to process applications, yet Florida’s unemployment insurance website has had known errors not related to volume: State auditors have documented problems with Florida’s unemployment website since 2015. In 2019, auditors reported to the DeSantis administration 600 known issues.

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