FORT MYERS, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis says Floridians have until the end of the month to continue to file for unemployment benefits without submitting proof they're looking for a new job.
During a news conference Wednesday, the governor answered a reporter's question, saying, "Normally when you're getting unemployment, the whole idea is that it's temporary and you need to be looking for work in order to be able to get off of unemployment and obviously work because that's what we want everyone to do. Well, when COVID hit, it was a disaster, so we suspended those job search requirements."
"But I think it's pretty clear now we have an abundance of job openings," DeSantis continued. "You go and talk to businesses, they want to hire people, particularly in hospitality and restaurants, all these things. So this is the last month where you're gonna have that in place. You are going to have to resume at the end of this month the job searching as part of continuing to receive benefits."
"And I think that's absolutely appropriate given the underlying strength of our economy. We absolutely could put more people to work, the demand is there, businesses want to hire more people and I think we'll be able to go in that direction very soon," he concluded.
"Per Governor DeSantis’ statement, the waiver for work search and work registration requirements is set to expire May 29, 2021," a spokesperson with the DEO said in a statement to 10 Tampa Bay. "The Department will provide more information as it becomes available."
"The Department encourages Floridians to utilize state resources such as CareerSource Florida and EmployFlorida while searching for work. Job seekers can explore more than 400,000 job opportunities online, learn workforce and job-training skills, and receive career advancement assistance."
Back in April, DeSantis said he didn't favor raising Florida's unemployment benefits, just as state senators proposed a bill to increase maximum benefits from $275 a week to $375 a week and boost the benefit duration from 12 weeks to 14 weeks. That bill didn't go anywhere before the end of the state legislative session.
Florida ranks in the bottom five for pay from unemployment insurance claims, according to fileunemployment.org.
According to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida's unemployment rate is at 4.7 percent. The national average rate of unemployment is currently at 6 percent.
Unemployment in Florida has been a contentious issue throughout 2020, particularly in light of constant frustrations with the state's unemployment website during the coronavirus pandemic.
In March, Florida's Auditor General released a 30-page report on the $81 million CONNECT system, which highlighted the spike in claims during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and revealed major holes in the system. Dozens of those issues weren't new, with auditors saying concerns were raised as far back as 2014.
The audit of the unemployment system came after DeSantis ordered an investigation back in May 2020.
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