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Florida unemployment benefits work search requirement: how it works

New requirements may be implemented for those seeking unemployment benefits in Florida.

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Florida unemployment benefits work search requirement: how it works
OLIVIER DOULIERY AFP

When the covid-19 pandemic began, laid-off workers in Florida encountered challenge after challenge while trying to access unemployment benefits through the state’s system. State lawmakers at the highest levels confirmed last summer that the system was designed to create roadblocks that would lead people to abandon their claims.

As the pandemic brought hiring to a standstill, Governor Ron DeSantis waived work search requirements to receive benefits. The waiver expired on 24 April, meaning that starting this week unemployed Florida residents claiming benefits may have to add information on at least five jobs they applied for to receive their checks. As of Sunday, 25 April, the governor has not responded to questions on whether he will extend the waiver again.

On Saturday, 24 April, Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) tweeted to inform claimants applying for benefits for weeks before 25 April that they will not need to comply with the work search requirements.

What do these requirements entail?

If these requirements do return, claimants would have to report on their efforts to find work on a bi-weekly basis. According to the DEO, “a work search may include, but is not limited to, registering for work and reemployment services with a local CareerSource Center, completing a job application in person or online, mailing a job application or resume, making in-person visits with potential employers, interviewing with potential employers, or registering for work with employment or placement agencies to name a few.”

Why is the government considering bringing back these requirements?

In the past few weeks, the governor has stated that he believes there are many good jobs available, which could explain his resistance to waiving the work search requirements. Last month, the DEO reported more than 400,000 job ads in the state.

One year after the pandemic began, the unemployment rate in Florida has fallen to 4.6% from a high of 14.2% in March 2020. This rate is more than a percent higher than pre-pandemic levels, showing the state still has ground to make up.

The sectors that have seen the most significant gains since March 2020 are “messengers and couriers,” which aligns with the boom in e-commerce that has taken place as stores were closed and people turned to online sellers.