Federal programs giving thousands of Floridians billions in unemployment aid end Labor Day
Image via AP.

Virus Outbreak-California-Unemployment claims
The two programs have provided $5.56 billion to ailing Florida workers.

Federal unemployment aid that helped Floridians survive financially since COVID-19 struck will end on Labor Day, marking a new chapter in the pandemic that could include many hardships.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has said both the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs will expire Sept. 6. Since their launch last year, the two programs have provided $5.56 billion to ailing Florida workers.

Nationwide, the move will cut benefits to an estimated 7.5 million Americans. As of last week, 201,412 Floridians received benefits through the two programs, the Tampa Bay Times reported, citing DEO data that did not detail how many people in total, including family members, the programs affect.

Created through the CARES Act, the PUA provided $275 a week to gig workers and others ineligible for state assistance. The PEUC extended for how long people could receive state aid. Congress had extended both since former President Donald Trump signed the initial federal relief package last year.

The programs will join a $600-per-week supplement given to workers early into the pandemic, which the federal government allowed to lapse last summer.

Upon confirming last month that his administration would not push to extend the unemployment programs, President Joe Biden urged states to use federal aid money to continue funding their own versions.

It’s unlikely Florida will be among states that do so. In late June, Florida became one of 24 states to opt out of another federal program, which also will expire Monday, that gave out-of-work residents another $300 in weekly benefits.

Florida’s joblessness agency attributed the decision to nix benefits early to its “Return to Work Initiative,” which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in May.

Among other things, the initiative lifted all local COVID-19 restrictions and mandates on individuals and businesses.

“There is a job surplus across the stand ready to assist Floridians who are out of work as they return to the workforce,” Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle said at the time.

Since then, Florida’s job listings have grown and the state’s unemployment rate rose 0.4 percentage points to 5.1%. The national rate was 5.2% as of Sept. 3.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


4 comments

  • Peterh

    September 5, 2021 at 6:15 pm

    These benefits have served two purposes. They have allowed people forced into unemployment to feed themselves and their families. Additionally the government money, in some but not all cases, has artificially inflated spending in Florida’s hospitality industry. Between the ongoing pandemic, thousands of jobs unfilled and a loss of benefits that have created disposable income for some……the hospitality industry and Florida’s retail will experience a loss in revenue.

    Reply

  • DONNA MATSON

    September 5, 2021 at 11:56 pm

    People need to get back to work. Open up the country and get rid of this automated society. I see for help signs everywhere, plus a $200.00 bonus to start. Absurd.

    Reply

    • Brooklyn

      September 7, 2021 at 11:36 am

      You sound dumb. A lot of businesses that were closed down and opened back up has now change their requirements. So where you once qualified, you are now not. Also the 200 dollar bonus isn’t even offered everywhere. And unemployment paid more than minimum wage jobs which are the ones hiring.

      Reply

  • DracoB

    September 13, 2021 at 11:19 pm

    Yeah unemployment really was such a saving grace! Couldn’t get in half the time or issues with your account then the crappy site to start with. I personally have applied to over 750 jobs and was even laughed at, because I was over qualified for a job!!! Really??? Yes! All I want to do is go back to work and not depend on anything from any state agency.
    I applied to an office job today, there was just 1 position and there were 350 other people that applied as well….yeah it’s real easy to get work. NOT! If you want the real truth of things ask someone who has been on unemployment and wants to and needs to go back to work. Truth works and that is why most don’t want to hear it, it’s easier to make shit up.

    Reply

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