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Coronavirus in Florida

Florida has paid out more than $9 billion in unemployment benefits

About 1.66 million claimants have now been paid.

Florida has now paid out more than $9 billion in unemployment claims, according to the Governor’s office.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has paid almost 1.66 million claimants as of Tuesday. A total of $9.07 billion worth of claims have been sent out, according to Helen Aguirre Ferré, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ communications director.

Those paid represent about two-thirds of the 2.49 million unique claims submitted to the state, as reported by the Department of Economic Opportunity as Tuesday.

But the state continues to see new claims come in at a record pace, with roughly 100,000 new applications submitted in the past week alone.

The system has suffered intense criticism from all political sides since the COVID-19 pandemic began in Florida in March. Since that time, the state faced a barrage of claims while officials struggled to scale up a website to handle demand.

Ferré said DeSantis “committed all efforts to ensure Florida residents who qualify for this benefit receive it.”

The bulk of money paid out by the state has come from federal sources. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program has paid out more than $6.4 billion in Florida, and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program delivered another $261 million. That’s according to a website showing claim workflow for the DEO just from March 15 through July 6.

Democrats have continued to hammer the Republican administration for slow reaction to problems with the system.

But DeSantis, highly critical of the system at the start of the pandemic, said resources from other parts of his administration have been redirected to ensuring unemployment claims get processed.

Florida’s unemployment rate in May was 14.5%, the DEO reports. The administration has expressed optimism more jobs will come online with June reporting as more businesses have reopened since a statewide lockdown in April.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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