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Stephanie Murphy surveying constituents on unemployment system

Murphy is employing a data is power approach to the unemployment problem.

After calling last week for an audit of Florida’s troubled unemployment claims system, Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy now is surveying Central Floridians about the system.

The Winter Park congresswoman announced Tuesday she’s following up on a flood of calls to her office from frustrated Floridians by setting up an online survey that asks if people have applied for unemployment, and how that went.

Florida’s 7th Congressional District, which Murphy represents, covers Seminole County and much of northern and central Orange County, including downtown Orlando. However, she’s asking Central Floridians in general to respond.

“My office has been flooded with calls from constituents who are having problems trying to get the unemployment insurance benefits they so desperately need in this COVID-19 crisis. Their frustration – and often desperation – is evident and heartbreaking,”  she wrote in a news release Tuesday.

“This online survey will help me and other leaders understand what kinds of problems Central Floridians are facing and hopefully add additional pressure to state leaders to get the system fully functioning. Data is power, and I’m asking any Central Floridians who have interacted with the unemployment system since Feb. 1 to take this survey and tell me about your experiences,” she continued. “We will share the data with state and federal leaders to identify problems and find solutions.”

The state’s system all but failed in March as its design flaws became apparent and it was overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of people attempting to access it. Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking concrete steps, such as website improvements and paper applications, and the temporary transfers of thousands of state employees to help people apply, and to process applications.

On Friday, Murphy bemoaned the “collapse” of the system in a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Inspector General. She asked for a holistic audit, both of recent failings and questionable use of $1.6 billion in federal funds over the last decade for the state’s program.

Murphy’s survey asks Central Floridians to rate their experience with the application process and to provide feedback on any problems they encountered.

The survey closes after 11:59 p.m. on April 22.

Murphy said she intends to share the data with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, congressional leaders, DeSantis, Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried, and members of the Florida Legislature. Murphy said she will also publicly publish the data on her website.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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