Florida’s efforts to catch up with the unemployment claims piling up from Floridians who lost their jobs in the coronavirus crisis have now confirmed one-million unique applicants.
According to numbers posted by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity on Sunday, covering efforts through Saturday, 1,025,657 unique claims have been logged, meaning those applicants have been sorted from the stacks of nearly 1.8 million applications, including multiple applications from the same people, that have poured in since March 15.
The department again shut down its on-line CONNECT application system for the weekend, to allow officials a chance to catch up on the backlogs. Through Saturday they were able to process another 37,415 claims, approving 24,060 and rejecting 12,455 for being ineligible, compared with what had been reported through Thursday.
At a press conference in Daytona Beach Sunday, Gov. Ron DeSantis mostly deflected questions about the system and the progress state officials are making in trying to get unemployed Floridians approved for the state’s reemployment assistance payments, the federal government’s pandemic unemployment compensation payments, or both. He said he would announce more on Monday.
“I know this is very difficult for a lot of people. The system just totally broke. It’s not a good system. We’re going to deal with that. But we had to make all these changes, really just 24/7. So that money is going out,” DeSantis said.
“I think the questions we get now more than anything is, ‘Hey I applied, but I was deemed ineligible’ … So they’re going to address that and show some of the different things that may be troubleshooting. If you don’t qualify for unemployment benefits … there are other forms of relief under the federal CARES Act. So we’re going to outline all of that tomorrow,” DeSantis said,
By April 27, the department was under harsh and spreading criticism for having rejected more than 40% of the claims during the state’s worst economic downturn since perhaps the Great Depression. State officials insisted they were following the book in doing so, but have since demonstrated a different direction, if for just a few days.
The approval rate has been going up significantly for most of a week. Through Saturday, the state has approved 61.9% of the claims processed and rejected 38.1%
However, the 12,455 rejections since Thursday was the largest number in a while. Still, the applications were approved at a rate of about 66%, better than prior weeks.
Through Saturday, Florida had paid out $271.6 million in state funds and $428.6 million in federal funds to 452,526 unemployed Floridians.
Federal numbers show that almost 1.6 million Floridians had filed for unemployment benefits during the seven-week stretch ending April 24.