Florida begins paying out extra $300 weekly, still working to extend federal unemployment programs

Courtesy: Shutterstock-TALLAHASSEE, FL, USA – JUNE 11, 2019: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Tallahassee FL – Image By Felix Mizioznikov

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) says it has begun the process of releasing $300 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments extended and altered by the Continued Assistance Act, as part of the recent stimulus bill. The payments are currently being sent to people collecting unemployment benefits along with Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), with word that the Department of Economic Opportunity is still working to extend the PEUC and PUA programs. 

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor released its weekly report on new unemployment claims: initial unemployment claims overshot projections by 179,000, bringing the total number of jobless claims in the U.S. to 965,000.

According to the latest seasonally adjusted Florida unemployment data in November 2020, there were 651,000 jobless Floridians out of a 10,146,000 person labor force in the state, equaling October’s revised rate of 6.4 percent.

In Florida the local area unemployment statistics were as follows:

Lowest Unemployment Rate: (As of November 2020)

  • Wakulla County (3.9 percent) 
  • St. Johns County (4.0 percent)
  • Santa Rosa County (4.1 percent)
  • Clay County (4.3 percent)
  • Nassau County (4.3 percent)
  • Okaloosa County (4.3 percent)

Highest Unemployment Rate: (As of November 2020)

  • Osceola County (9.7 percent)
  • Orange County (8.1 percent)
  • Putnam County (7.7 percent)
  • Gadsden County (7.5 percent)
  • Miami-Dade County (7.4 percent)
  • Polk County (7.4 percent)

Floridians who’ve already depleted their weeks under the aforementioned programs and are still jobless through Dec. 27, 2020, DEO says they will be able to request additional benefits “soon.”

DEO said that CONNECT, the Florida Reemployment Assistance Program, will be down from Saturday, Jan. 16 through Monday, Jan. 18 because it will be using that time “to implement the CARES Act programs, process payments, and send necessary correspondence to claimants, including tax documentation.” The program will be up and running on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 8:00 a.m.

They also recommend that anyone who has depleted their benefits and are waiting for additional support from PEUC and PUA programs should wait until the DEO is able to secure a continuation of the benefits program to establish a new benefit year “if you can.”

“The Department is making the necessary program adjustments to make these additional weeks of benefits available quickly and will continue communicating as weeks become available. Eligible claimants will receive the money they are owed as quickly as possible,” said a DEO representative to Florida’s WINK News. 

Any unemployed person who is about to use up their regular state benefits is encouraged to continue requesting their entitled benefits. When the program is extended, qualifying persons will be able to request PUA and PEUC benefits. Those who fail to request their benefits may “delay program extensions” on their claim. And lastly, those who are still unemployed but receiving PUA and PEUC benefits but haven’t depleted them should continue claiming their weeks.  

To be clear, “Extended Benefits” are not the same as PUA and PEUC continuation.

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