The additional $300 in federal funding Floridians have been able to collect for unemployment during the pandemic is coming to an end.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced Monday it will stop participating in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program on June 26.
DEO says the driving force behind the decision is its "Return to Work" initiative and the latest labor statistics, but those who will lose the extra cash are concerned.
"When I heard the news today that they were getting rid of the extra 300, it shook me at first," Anna Marie Sikora said.
Sikora lost her job in the health care industry last year and finding another job with flexibility and enough pay for the mom of three has proven to be tough.
"It's gonna impact me greatly until the child credit comes into play in July," she said. "You cannot live on $10 an hour in Florida unless if you're working two maybe even three jobs. But then, what do you do with your children? How do you get them to school? How do you help them with school?"
The state says jobs are available. According to a DEO press release, April unemployment stats for the state showed a private-sector employment increase of 18,800 jobs and more than 460,000 online job postings.
“Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida’s economy has bounced back tremendously with over 460,000 jobs available throughout our state and the strongest economic conditions in the nation,” said Dane Eagle, secretary of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “Florida’s employers are also seeing employment growth, as more Floridians, including some who completely left the workforce, are now eagerly reentering the workforce. Transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce.”
However, some business owners are having a tough time getting workers in their doors and on the job.
Robery Ly of Sus Hi Eatstation said he's understaffed by at least 20 percent at all his locations.
"There's a lot of government assistance that's been helping out...I think with the unemployment, they haven't been so obligated to come back to work," he said.
Officials say the following additional federal reemployment assistance programs are continuing for "the time being":
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
- Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation
Those filing for unemployment will see the stoppage of the additional $300 for the week beginning June 27.
Florida was initially approved for funding by FEMA in August 2020 to help supplement the $275 in unemployment those out of work due to COVID-19 could collect from the state.
In a statement, Florida House Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-47) on Monday slammed DeSantis and the state for cutting off the extra $300 payments:
"It’s been made clear time and time again that Florida’s Governor does not care about our state's workers. Not only did he dismiss bipartisan efforts during the Legislative Session to increase Florida’s criminally low Weekly Benefit Amount by $100 but today his administration has decided to strip away critical federal support that hundreds of thousands of people rely on.
It’s shameful that Florida’s political leaders would choose ideological talking points and call workers lazy versus listen to the obstacles workers have faced in finding suitable work in our still recovering economy. Our office continues to be flooded with phone calls and emails from folks missing weeks if not months of unemployment benefits. The state should prioritize people in need — not make it harder for them to get back on their feet.
Florida’s unemployment system was designed to fail and this decision has made a bad situation worse. I urge DEO to reconsider cutting off Floridians from this important safety net."
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