As unemployment claims top 1 million, Florida says system making progress

Florida unemployment rate spikes in March
Florida unemployment rate spikes in March

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida is making progress paying unemployment claims, based on the latest numbers from the Department of Economic Opportunity. But the system remains far from perfect and the outcry continues over unpaid claims.

The number of unemployment claims filed has now topped 1 million -- that’s one out of nine working Floridians.

Since April 15, when new leadership took over, 438,000 claims have been paid. That’s 10 times more than in the previous four weeks.

“The numbers are starting to look much better,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

But the number of claims paid amounts to just under 46% of the unique claims submitted.

“The two main issues that were causing complaints are pin problems and the unavailability of a link for certain claim weeks,” former DEO Director Jesse Panuccio said in 2013.

That 7-year-old quote still rings true with users today.

The governor on Monday ordered his inspector general to investigate why the system costs so much and delivers so little.

“The total amount of costs were $77.9 million. The contract was amended 14 different times during this,” DeSantis said.

In a statement, Deloitte who contracted with the state for the system, wrote:

“When the state accepted the system and we completed our work in 2015, CONNECT was vastly outperforming the systems it replaced and processing claims more efficiently and accurately than ever before. We have not been involved in the system since then," Deloitte wrote.

Meanwhile, Twitter is blowing up with angry unemployed residents. The governor said that’s one way to get the agency’s attention.

“When the agency sees folks who get quoted in the press or so some stuff on social media about it, they will actually look up and try to find the individuals in the system,” DeSantis said.

The governor said there is a helpline, but advises you to call it as a last resort. That number is 1-833-352-7759.