Unemployment payments climb to $15 billion and counting

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 6:01 PM EDT
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(WCJB) - Floridians eligible for unemployment benefits on August 1st should soon see up to $900 in their accounts.

The money is coming from the Federal Lost Wages Assistance Program, but Democrats and the AFL-CIO argue the state could and should be doing much more.

As the state began processing the additional $300 payments, the total paid out by the state jumped by more than $815 million in one day.

That pushes the total payments since March over $15 billion, and likely over the $16 billion mark by Thursday.

“It’s basically at this point a total of $900 maximum that someone can get,” said State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez.

While the additional cash is welcome, Democrats and the AFL-CIO argue it’s not enough.

“Florida has the stingiest unemployment system, and arguably the most dysfunctional system by design,” said Rodriguez.

On labors wish wist: More weeks of benefits with higher weekly payments.

“We know from the states own data, every dollar paid out in benefits generates a $1.64 in local economic activity. This is also a boon for the economy,” said Dr. Rich Templin with the Florida AFL-CIO.

The union argues the Governor could use his emergency powers to increase the length of eligibility and raise payments, but say he has chosen not to.

“The issue isn’t that he can’t try to order some of these things. If someone feels he can’t, then take him to court,” said Templin.

So far, four of every five dollars paid in unemployment claims in Florida has come from the Federal Government, but even at that low percentage, the state has already exhausted three-fourths of its reemployment trust fund, setting the stage for higher employer contributions in the future.

Anyone eligible for unemployment benefits on or after August 1st doesn’t have to do anything.

Payments for the weeks of August 1st, 8th, and 15th will automatically show up in your account.

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