DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY
Florida’s unemployment rate dips slightly
The hospitality and leisure sector was the hardest hit in pandemic job losses and is beginning to recover. TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s unemployment rate remained relatively stable in February, dropping just one-tenth of a percent to 4.7%, according to the jobless report released Friday by the Department of Economic Opportunity. The rate is 1.4% higher than it was in February 2020 -- one month before pandemic job losses began mounting. The February rate reflects an estimated 474,000 Floridians out of work from a workforce of 10.1 million. The unemployment rate in the greater Jacksonville area was 3.7% in February, down from 11.5% reported in April 2020, the highest rate during the pandemic.
Florida’s economy shows signs of improvement, economist says
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s economy is showing some improvement. The unemployment rate for January was revised downward by a full percentage point. Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment is now 4.8 percent for January 2021, up 1.5 percent from the same time last year. For perspective, the U.S. unemployment rate was 6.3 percent in January. Adrienne Johnston, chief economist for the state Department of Economic Opportunity, said the 1-point drop in the revised rate is the biggest revision in over a year.
Judge rejects lawsuit over Florida’s unemployment system
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Leon County circuit judge on Monday dismissed a potential class-action lawsuit against the state and Deloitte Consulting stemming from problems with Florida’s online unemployment compensation system during the COVID-19 pandemic. After dismissing the case in September, Cooper allowed the plaintiffs to file a revised version. It sought damages and raised several arguments, including that the department and Deloitte were negligent and breached a fiduciary duty. This document is critically important for the court’s consideration of the pending motions to dismiss.”AdBut in a pair of orders dismissing the case, Cooper flatly denied the plaintiffs’ arguments. “After more than nine months and multiple rounds of pleading, plaintiffs are still unable to demonstrate their entitlement to relief,” he wrote.
Florida officials seek to replace jobless benefits system
The department, which oversees the state's unemployment system, is asking lawmakers for $73 million over the next two years to modernize the system that left hundreds of thousands of jobless Floridians without unemployment checks for weeks and sometimes months. The Economic Opportunity Department launched a review of its own, and the results were presented Monday to the legislative select committee on pandemic preparedness and response. The inspector general’s findings are current being reviewed by economic opportunity officials. The new money requested by the Economic Opportunity Department adds to the $39 million COVID-19-related outlays in its current year budget. AdMeanwhile, the state’s Unemployment Benefit Trust Fund has been dramatically depleted.
Florida unemployment dips to 6.1% in December
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s unemployment rate dipped slightly in December but is still nearly double the jobless rate from a year ago, according to figures released by the state on Friday. Last month's unemployment rate was 6.1%, up 3.2 percentage points from December 2019. The industry to gain the most jobs in the Jacksonville area over the year in December 2020, increasing by 1,100 jobs. The industry losing the most jobs over the year was leisure and hospitality, decreasing by 10,400 jobs. St. Johns and Wakulla counties had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.6%.
Questions remain about added jobless benefits from stimulus package
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Questions remained Wednesday about when extended unemployment benefits from a newly signed federal stimulus package will be available for Floridians out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The package Trump signed is slated to provide $300 in federal benefits for each week a currently eligible claimant receives unemployment assistance. People who become unemployed early in 2021 would be able to draw the additional benefits through April 5. The federal government has been responsible for nearly $16 billion of the money, largely because Congress passed a stimulus package in the spring that boosted benefits. The stimulus payments, up to $600 per adult and $600 per child, will follow the process used in the spring when the federal CARES Act authorized up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.
Medicaid enrollment surge means major workload for state
The department generally reviews Medicaid beneficiaries’ eligibility each year. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has indicated it will issue guidance in the coming weeks about how state Medicaid officials should proceed with the annual reviews. Florida’s Medicaid program, which provides services to poor, elderly and disabled beneficiaries, had 4.417 million people enrolled as of Oct. 30, according to Agency for Health Care Administration data. AHCA runs much of the Medicaid program, but the Department of Children and Families handles issues such as eligibility determinations. They also are applying for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, which provides financial assistance to unemployed families, and a federal food-assistance program.
Florida jobs agency workers returning to office
The department, whose numerous duties include overseeing the unemployment system, is an executive agency under the governor’s office. Ron DeSantis, said such directions about bringing workers back to offices are up to individual agencies, when asked about plans to reopen state government buildings. Similarly, no changes are planned in the Attorney General’s Office, where spokeswoman Lauren Cassedy noted that on a volunteer basis 25 percent of employees currently can work in the office. “We will not be reopening any offices to the public until (the Department of Management Services) indicates that state buildings are reopening to the public,” Cassedy said in an email. Representatives of the Department of Management Services, which oversees state buildings, did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Friday.
Florida’s unemployment rate falls to 7.4 percent
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s unemployment rate dropped a whopping four points in August, according to figures released by the state Friday, bringing it to 7.4 percent. The state reported 46,000 private sector jobs were created in August as 143,000 Floridians returned to work. [View county-by-county unemployment data using the table below]But the state’s economy isn’t out of the woods just yet. The national unemployment rate also dropped by nearly two points in August, now sitting at 8.4 percent. It’s the first time that rate has dipped to single digits since the beginning of the pandemic.
Florida seeks to boost unemployment benefits $300 a week
Ron DeSantis is applying to participate in a federal unemployment assistance program so people currently receiving at least $100 in benefits can be eligible for another $300 a week. The Lost Wages Assistance Program was created by an executive order signed by President Donald Trump earlier this month. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is authorized to spend up to $44 billion in disaster relief money for unemployment benefits. So that will happen.Once approved, benefits will be retroactive to Aug. 1. Florida has had massive problems with its online unemployment application program, so much so DeSantis ordered an investigation into the company hired to create it.
Unemployment gap leaves self-employed & gig workers hanging
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The additional $600 federal unemployment checks Floridians had been receiving on top of their state unemployment checks expired Friday. That has left those in the state who are self-employed or reliant on the gig economy out in the cold. Webb applied for unemployment back in April, but because he’s self-employed he doesn’t qualify for state benefits — only the $600 federal benefits. But even the fiscally conservative Florida TaxWatch wants to see the federal unemployment aid extended. Nearly $8 of every $10 dollars the state has paid out in unemployment are from the federal unemployment program.
Floridas unemployment rate rose to 14.5% in May
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Floridas unemployment rate jumped higher in May, hitting a record 14.5% as the state continued reeling from the economic shutdowns caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The department also revised upward the April unemployment rate to 13.8%. Before the coronavirus hit and devastated the states tourism, retail and other industries, Februarys unemployment rate had been 2.8%. Before April, the highest unemployment Florida had seen since World War II had been 11.3% in early 2010. St. Johns County and Nassau counties showed the largest increases while Putnam County had the largest decrease in May unemployment rate.
Unemployment system glitch costs Floridians thousands in payments
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Floridas unemployment system is once again in hot water after thousands of dollars were not deposited into peoples accounts because of what the Department of Economic Opportunity called technical issues.The DEO said it found two technology concerns that prevented people from getting their Federal Pandemic Unemployment compensation over the last few weeks. Thats $600 extra a week that unexpectedly stopped for some families that depend on that money. The Department of Economic Opportunity explained what went wrong:Individuals who requested that their claims be backdated were not included in recent payment files for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments. The department has identified these individuals and should have them paid their $600 federal payment within 5 business days.That technical problem cost Daphne Glenns family $1,800. Glenn said the federal money just stopped out of nowhere after May 19 and no one told her what happened.
Unemployment system continues to frustrate Floridians
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Applying to Florida’s unemployment system is relatively easy. Morad filed for unemployment March 29. RELATED: Florida’s unemployment system adds waiting roomShe knows with more people applying, the system is going to be even more overwhelmed. New numbers show Florida and Georgia ranked second and third in the country for the most unemployment claims filed last week. For the week that ended May 30, 206,494 unemployment claims were filed in Florida.
Florida’s unemployment system adds waiting room
Perhaps the most apparent change to the system came in the form of a virtual waiting room now available through CONNECT, the state’s oft-criticized unemployment system. "The CONNECT Virtual Waiting Room allows claimants to reserve their place in line while other claimants access the system,” the spokeswoman said. If you’ve ever dealt with the unemployment system, half the battle is logging in. Tracy Pando is well acquainted with Florida’s unemployment website. At the request of News4Jax, Pando tried out the virtual waiting room.
One way to know if an email from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is legitimate
The Department of Economic Opportunity confirmed 98 people were part of a data security incident. The same day that data security incident happened, an email went out to some filing for or receiving unemployment reading in part:The Florida Department of Economic opportunity has received your reemployment assistance claim application. News4Jax reached out to the DEO to see if this email was part of the data security incident. The DEO says the number one give away that an email is legitimate is the DEO uses a do not reply email address. One way to know if an email from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is legitimate
DeSantis blames paperwork problems for unresolved unemployment claims
Ron DeSantis said Monday that most remaining unsettled claims in the state’s heavily criticized unemployment system are due to incomplete applications. DeSantis said forms often lack Social Security numbers or information about wages earned when the applicants were employed or they improperly list reasons for people being out of work. Senate Democrats on Monday delivered to DeSantis’ office information about more than 1,000 applicants who have been waiting for unemployment benefits since March. DeSantis said Monday that after work over the weekend, 97 percent of the unique and valid applicants have drawn state or federal benefits. The department in a Sunday recap also reported 43,813 claims have come from out of state, and fraud has been detected in 32,221 cases.
Florida continues lagging behind volume of unemployment claims
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There are new calls for the state to quickly pay unemployment claims now and worry about the legitimacy of the claims later. Statistics released on Friday show the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity continues to see more claims than it is paying. “Pay the damn claims — pay them," said State Sen. Perry Thurston. “It can be fixed with a stroke of a pen by the governor via executive order,” said State Sen. Gary Farmer. "We have people who will testify that they were instructed that if someone calls and they can’t pay the rent, can’t pay the mortgage, to tell people to call the emergency number of the United Way,” attorney Gautier Kitchen said.
As unemployment claims top 1 million, Florida says system making progress
As unemployment claims top 1 million, Florida says system making progressPublished: May 5, 2020, 6:03 pmFlorida is making progress paying unemployment claims, based on the latest numbers from the Department of Economic Opportunity.
Florida unemployment rate holds steady in August
iStock/sloboTALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida's unemployment rate held at 3.3 percent in August -- and was down slightly from a year ago, according to numbers released Friday by the state Department of Economic Opportunity. Nationally, the unemployment rate last month was 3.7 percent. Among the state's metropolitan statistical areas, the Crestview-Fort Walton-Destin region in the Panhandle had the lowest unemployment rate last month at 2.8 percent, the same as in July. The area's unemployment rate was 3.4 percent in August, down 0.1 percentage point from one year ago. The state's overall unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted, while the regional rates are not.
More than 10 million Floridians now have jobs
iStock/sloboJACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Florida gained almost 23,000 jobs last month, the most of any state other than Texas, which dropped the Sunshine State's unemployment rate to 3.3%. Figures released Friday by the state Department of Economic Opportunity Friday shows Florida added 227,000 jobs year over year, the most of any state but Texas and California. The latest monthly totals reflect 344,000 jobless Floridians in a workforce of 10.35 million. The states unemployment rate remains below the national rate, which held at 3.7%. Metro Jacksonville's rate is 3.5%, with the most new jobs in the leisure and hospitality fields, followed by education and health care, then construction jobs.
3 NE Florida communities receive infrastructure, housing funds
Ron DeSantis on Tuesday announced $16.2 million in awards for 24 small and rural communities across the state through the Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant program. The program -- a partnership between Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development -- helps communities fund infrastructure improvements and housing rehabilitation. Town of Callahan ($650,000) to install water mains to increase system operating pressures, and to improve firefighting capabilities and system reliability. This project is expected to benefit more than 1,300 individuals of which more than half are low- to moderate-income. Town of Hilliard ($700,000) to replace water and sewer lines and install an emergency electrical generator at the Oxford Street lift station.