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Coronavirus: Florida hires more workers to help those filing for unemployment benefits

Need a job? The unemployment office is hiring! Florida's Reemployment Assistance program is in need of more workers to help process the influx of applications.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has taken its toll on the economy. Businesses are temporarily closed and with unemployment claims rising at a rapid pace, the states cannot keep up with the demand.

"It is frustrating," Kurt Meiss said.

Captain Meiss lost his job with Amelia River Cruises on March 20 and said he has tried applying for unemployment benefits every day since then and has yet to complete the process.

"Some days I have been online 12 hours trying to file," he said.

Like every Floridian, he has to apply on the website www.floridajobs.org.

Sometimes the website refers the applicant to an 800 telephone number. Meiss said he has also tried that process.

"I was on hold for three hours trying to talk to somebody," he said. "They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over."

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity runs the website and is aware of the complaints. 

"We understand Floridians are frustrated," said Tiffany Vause.

She said DEO plans to roll out a mobile application in two and a half weeks, but they are now in the process of hiring more workers. This week they hired 70 more workers.

"In addition, we have signed a contract with a call center that will bring fifty more workers to handle the calls," Vause said.

If you need to print an application to file, you can find the document here.

The system is overwhelmed. Since March 20, DEO has processed more than 300,000 applications, and it is not over.

"We are doing everything we can to serve Floridians," she said.

She said they're asking everyone to be patient. All claims will be processed. 

"I want your viewers to know when they file, as soon as they're able to file, they will get the benefits they are entitled to," said Vause.

Meiss said he will continue the application process. He said thus far he has received a claim number, but it is incomplete and he needs his benefits.

"I know they have a lot on their plate, but they should have been better prepared for this," Meiss said.

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