Coronavirus and the precautions taken to slow the spread continue to wreak havoc on Florida’s job market.
The week ending April 11 saw another massive number of new applicants for unemployment, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The number (181,293) was actually up week over week: the number for the week ending Apr. 4 was 169,885.
Florida was one of the few states with an increase from Apr. 4, which could be a function of hiccups with the state’s unemployment insurance system claims process.
Nationally, there were 5,245,000 new applicants for unemployment, a decrease of 1,370,000 week over week, but all told, roughly 22 million have filed in the last four weeks nationally.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday made moves to address the state’s botched unemployment claims process.
The Governor said he was “disappointed” in the state unemployment claims website.
Department of Management Services head Jon Satter will take over response to unemployment, a move that DeSantis conceded would disempower Department of Economic Opportunity director Ken Lawson.
DeSantis has been frustrated, he told reporters, by a failure to get accurate numbers: a weeks-long inability to get data on claims and their fulfillment status.
The Governor touted progress, including 100 new servers with 1,000 workers of the expected 2,000 already taking calls.
There have been “tens of thousands” of paper applications, and 500,000 submitted claims, DeSantis said.
“What people want more than anything is to see money turned around,” DeSantis said, noting that the normal three week wait is itself “too long” and he is “seeking ways to process as expeditiously as possible.”
As those applications get processed, expect Florida jobless numbers to continue to surge.
The state has hemorrhaged jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, leading hundreds of thousands of Floridians to attempt to file for unemployment. For many, the application process has been fruitless.
The state website to process claims has been overloaded with users, and phone lines have been backed up. Many jobless Floridians have called the DEO unemployment hotline dozens of times a day to no avail.