Cost of Florida unemployment claims surpasses $20 billion in pandemic
A transformation of Florida’s career system could help job seekers.

concept unemployment and coronavirus a man in a medical hygienic mask is holding a cardboard tablet with a inscription need a job
About 5.218 million jobless claims have been filed in Florida since March.

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity data released this week, the cost of unemployment claims in Florida has now exceeded $20 billion in state and federal funds since the coronavirus outbreak began.

Since March, there have been 5.218 million total unemployment claims. That now accounts for $20.057 billion in payouts to Floridians who’ve sought jobless benefits in that time.

Most of that money has come from the federal pandemic unemployment compensation and lost wage assistance fund, which has covered about $12.324 billion in jobless help to Floridians. Another $1.945 billion has come from federal pandemic unemployment assistance, and some $1.885 billion has been picked up by the federal pandemic emergency unemployment compensation fund.

Florida has kicked in funding to help cover some of that cost as well. About $3.901 billion for jobless assistance has come from the state re-employment assistance program during the outbreak.

This week’s total unemployment claims are up about 143,000 claims compared to a week ago. That is the biggest weekly increase in months, and the first time the weekly increase had exceeded 100,000 new claims since early October when there was a jump of about 108,000 in one week.

While this week’s increase in pandemic-related jobless claims is a spike, it’s still nowhere near the throes of the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak when there were as many as 500,000 new claims in a single week in the spring and early weeks of the summer. That’s when many businesses in the state began to layoff workers or shut down entirely, as the outbreak prompted many people to stay at home.

In the past week, there were a total of 4.937 million unique unemployment claims, meaning they were not duplicates. About 4.816 million of those claims have been processed, which is about 99%.

Another 2.175 million claims in Florida have now been paid. That amounts to 97% of the pandemic-related unemployment filings since the outbreak began.

Drew Dixon

Drew Dixon is a journalist of 40 years who has reported in print and broadcast throughout Florida, starting in Ohio in the 1980s. He is also an adjunct professor of philosophy and ethics at three colleges, Jacksonville University, University of North Florida and Florida State College at Jacksonville. You can reach him at [email protected].


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