Florida becomes 23rd state to prematurely end $300 unemployment benefits

Florida is now the latest state to stop paying its jobless residents the extra $300 a week federal boost to unemployment benefits as many debate whether the extra benefit is deterring Americans from returning to work.

The Department of Economic Opportunity {DEO} announced on Monday that Florida will end its participation in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program on June 27th, the scheme which provided the extra $300 a week. However, Florida will continue to participate in two separate programs which provide jobless benefits for freelancers, the self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers and those who are typically not eligible for benefits and extended state unemployment benefits once they have been exhausted. Four other states including Arizona and Ohio are also keeping these programs in place until they expire in September.

The decision comes following the Labour Department’s dismal jobs report which revealed that the economy only added 266,000 jobs last month, completely missing the 1 million forecast by Refinitiv economists. Many Republican lawmakers were quick to blame the extra benefits for this poor showing, citing that with the federal supplement Americans can receive around $630 weekly in unemployment benefits, which is about $32,000 annually {double what someone getting paid the national minimum wage would earn}.

Dane Eagle, the executive director of the DEO said in a statement: “Florida employers are also seeing employment growth, as more Floridians, including some who had completely left the workforce, are now eagerly re-entering the workforce. Transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce.” The statement goes onto mention that “Florida has gained nearly 800,000 private-sector jobs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are more than 450,000 online job postings throughout the state for job seekers. Florida’s businesses and employers are hiring across the state and need unemployed Floridians to return to the workforce.”

Given those figures relating to job postings it’s hardly surprising that many of Florida’s business leaders have welcomed the move, arguing that its time for Florida to bounce back from COVID and grow the workforce. Associated Industries of Florida Senior Vice President of Federal and State Affairs, Brewster Bevis said, “Florida’s decision to end the weekly supplemental FPUC payments will greatly help in getting Floridians to return to work. Florida is facing a labour shortage …… It is significant that Governor DeSantis and our state are taking action, just like this one, to help our economy return to pre-pandemic levels of success and end the labour shortage.  Mark Wilson who is president of Florida’s Chamber of Commerce said that Gov. DeSantis decision “will help fill thousands of these vacancies and aid in ending the worker shortage throughout the state.”

However, President Biden and many Democrats have rejected the idea that Americans are choosing to stay at home because they are able to collect these extra benefits. The President told reporters at a press conference two weeks ago that “We don’t see much evidence of that.” However Biden did pledge to enforce unemployment insurance laws so that no American could “game the system”, stating that “We’re going to make it clear to anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job they must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits.” 




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