Judge denies calls to extend pandemic unemployment benefits
The U.S. unemploynet ticked up a bit. Image via AP.

The federal pandemic assistance program ends on Saturday, but some wanted Florida to jump back on for the last of it.

A Leon County judge has rejected a lawsuit to restore federal unemployment benefits in Florida.

On Monday, Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith denied the effort to restore $300 in weekly federal unemployment compensation after the DeSantis administration stopped participating in the program.

In June, the Department of Economic Opportunity withdrew from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, becoming one of now 26 states to drop their participation early. That program provides jobless Americans with $300 in assistance each week on top of state assistance. Still, several officials, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, said the program discourages people from returning to work.

Smith acknowledged the lingering financial situation for some Floridians but noted the federal law does not obligate the state to provide the additional dollars.

“The court ruling issued today affirms that the State of Florida’s successful Return to Work Initiative and subsequent withdrawing participation from the (FPUC) program was the right decision legally and has proved to increase employment and workforce participation,” DEO said in a statement.

Last week, DeSantis said the state has already recovered economically from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 400,000 jobs are now available. The Florida Chamber of Commerce says the state had already recovered 950,000 of the 1.3 million jobs lost last year when the pandemic brought the world economy to a halt.

“If you go around, almost everyone wants to hire in some way or some form,” DeSantis said Thursday. “And so the need to have elongated unemployment and all that is not where it was back then because we have so many opportunities.”

Many businesses are offering signing bonuses, he continued. Fast food restaurants are struggling to fill jobs, and some restaurants close one or two days a week because of staffing shortages.

Moreover, the Governor said there had been up to $20 billion in fraudulent claims filed to Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, which oversees the state unemployment program.

“They are being … inundated with fraudulent claims,” DeSantis said. “This has become a major cottage industry.”


Despite Smith’s ruling, FPUC, authorized through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan, is slated to end Saturday.

Without the federal boost, Florida’s maximum state assistance is $275 per week, one of the smallest amounts in the nation.

The state unemployment portal crashed last year in the opening months of the pandemic under the crunch of hundreds of thousands of applicants.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • B

    August 30, 2021 at 6:29 pm

    Desantis is an asshole. He’s a clown. He does not give a damn about Floridians or our unemployment struggles. He’s never had to struggle. Such as asshole and the judge who ruled in his favor is no better. I just pray to God that someway somehow the ruling is reversed soon. I’ve applied to several jobs and nothing. Desantis is a real asshole, he’s not q good human being. Smh.

  • Kent

    August 30, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    You suck desantis and this whole thing stinks of corruption the judge you picked gets to decide whether floridians eat or starve?it’s our(taxpayers) no ey you corrupt politicians commit more fraud than any twobit criminal does I hope you get your ass handed to you in the election

    • Tom

      August 31, 2021 at 2:48 pm

      Go get jobs.
      Over 500,000 jobs avail.

  • Am I wrong?

    September 2, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    It’s commonsense… if you give away free money to those who don’t work… why would they work?

    Florida small businesses (like restaurants) are hit the hardest because many have a hard time competing with free money.

  • lux

    September 2, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    Work for 2-3 hours 1n your spare OO time and get paid $1200 0n y0ur bank acc0unt every week..y

    Get more information 0n f0ll0wing site….. https://workjoin1.com

  • Tom

    September 3, 2021 at 6:34 am

    No, you are correct. Not wrong.
    Along with 64,000 jobs were added In July. Florida’s unemployment dropped to 5.1. Governor Ron is correct. Time to work.

  • martin

    September 3, 2021 at 10:58 pm

    It is time for the lazy dem’s to get back to work. No more living off the hard working taxpayers dime.

Comments are closed.


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