JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As record numbers of Floridians are filing for unemployment, the state Department of Economic Opportunity’s primary website for submitting new claims is displaying a message Friday that will be processing payments for the next three days.
“Welcome to CONNECT, Florida’s Online Application for Reemployment Assistance. CONNECT is currently processing payments. We apologize for the inconvenience. CONNECT will be available at 8:00 a.m Monday, April 27,” is the message displayed on the website.
Applicants have continued to express frustrations about being cut off from Florida’s online CONNECT unemployment system and not being able to get through to call centers for assistance. But the state has expanded the ways people can apply, making a second online system available and allowing people to fill out paper applications.
Florida DEO is rushing to reduce a massive backlog of claims created after businesses shuttered to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, has processed 30.6% of its claims, with unemployment payments of up of $275 a week going out to 17% of the applicants.
Nearly 300,000 unemployment claims were filed this week in Florida, bringing the total to 1.8 million since the middle of March. While 700,000 of those claims have been verified, two-thirds of those remain unpaid.
More than one in 10 new jobless claims across the United States last week were made to Florida’s overwhelmed unemployment system, according to numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor. The federal agency reported Florida had an estimated 505,137 first-time applications of the 4.4 million new claims filed during the week ending April 19.
A Wallethub survey released on Thursday found that Florida had a 8,446% increase in unemployment claims last week over the same week in 2019 -- the biggest increase in the nation.
On Wednesday, Florida Department of Management Services Secretary John Satter announced that anyone who lost their job since March 9 will receive retroactive payments regardless of when their application was successfully submitted.
Satter was tapped last week by Gov. Ron DeSantis to lead the Department of Economic Opportunity through its coronavirus unemployment surge. The current DEO Director Ken Lawson will oversee non-coronavirus related unemployment.