New Florida jobless claims top 220,000 in week

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New unemployment numbers show people are still applying by the thousands even as Florida and Georgia begin to reopen.

More than 221,000 jobless benefit claims were filed in Florida last week, and more than 241,000 claims were filed in Georgia.

Florida’s unemployment system has garnered national attention over the last few weeks for having one of the slowest and problematic systems in the country.

Wayne Gulsby has been dealing with being unemployed. He said Wednesday marked the first day he was able to get through to someone at the department since mid-March.

“Mine and my wife’s mouth dropped and almost hit the floor, and we were just going to wait until somebody comes on, even if we have to wait two to three hours, at least we get to talk to somebody,” Gulsby said.

The excitement was short-lived.

“Unfortunately the person I got to talk to wasn’t somebody that could access individual file," Gulsby continued.

His unemployment journey started when he was furloughed while working as a chef on March 18. In April, Gulsby became one of the hundreds of thousands deemed ineligible, even though he appeared to meet all of the qualifications.

But Wednesday morning, he was -- for the first time -- able to re-apply and backlog two weeks of unemployment pay he’s still waiting for.

“My only question now is, I’m back to waiting to see what the process is going to be for that and how long that could take to be processed, and now there was three other weeks that I was trying to process before now," Gulsby said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has reinstated the policy that jobless Floridians must affirm they are unemployed on the Connect website every two weeks to keep applying for aid, and starting at the end of the May, people must be able to show they are actively searching for a job.

More than 11,000 Floridians have signed a petition that is being delivered to DeSantis, demanding that changes are made.

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