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When are unemployment benefits ending in Florida?

Various changes are coming to the distribution of unemployment benefits in Florida this June including the elimination of the federal $300 topper. 

When are unemployment benefits ending in Florida?
MANDEL NGAN AFP

In April 2020, unemployment increased to 14.2 percent in Florida, more than five points higher than the 2019 average. The Miami area has the highest unemployment rate at almost 7%, but overall the data collected shows that the unemployment rate across the state had dropped to 4.8 percent. While higher than pre-pandemic levels, the sharp decline represents a significant improvement in the Sunshine State’s economy.

 Based on these improvements, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has called to reinstate some additional requirements for those on unemployment to receive their benefits. As the pandemic caused mass layoffs in the Spring of 2020, Florida and many other states removed the job search requirement to receive benefits. Job search requirements mandate those on employment to provide evidence that they are searching for new career opportunities.

However, with unemployment inching back to “normal levels,” the governor has re-implemented the rule to encourage those on employment to begin their re-entry into the workforce. As of 26 May, these requirements are in place, and in the coming weeks, workers will have to report a certain number of searchers. In smaller counties, with populations under 75,000, claimants will have to provide three searchers, and for those in large countries, five searches will be required. The state has provided guidance on what constitutes a “valid” work search.

Additionally, on 24 May, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced that on 26 June, the state would stop the additional $300 a week federal topper to those receiving state unemployment benefits. Florida follows twenty-two other states that will also be ending the federal pandemic unemployment benefits this summer.

In announcing the end to these federal programs, Dane Eagle, the Secretary of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, thanked the governor for his leadership, saying that “Florida’s economy has bounced back tremendously with over 460,000 jobs available throughout our state and the strongest economic conditions in the nation.” Citing worker shortages, the Secretary went on to say that ending the benefit “will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce.”

In early May, Secretary Eagle announced the “Return to Work” program, which will help “Floridians who are interested in learning a new career path or need assistance looking for employment, to turn to CareerSource Florida for assistance.” CareerSource Florida is a state-run site that aims to “help job seekers explore new employment opportunities, provide workforce and job-training skills, and provide career advancement assistance.” The program was announced as reports showed that Florida was able to add 700,00 new jobs and had almost half a million jobs available during the pandemic.

While millions of unemployed workers will see their benefits cut this summer, the research does not demonstrate that a cutting in payments incentivizes workers to return to the job market. These benefits were first cut in July 2020 from $600 to zero and then reintroduced in December at a value of $300 a week on top of state benefits. The research did not show that these events correlated with more or fewer people entering or leaving the workforce.