The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced earlier this week that an algorithm to determine the number of weeks of unemployment benefits will revert back to its pre-pandemic rate.
According to state law, when the state unemployment rate is below five percent, the number of weeks for eligible Floridians to receive benefits is 12 weeks.
“Based on the average 2021 third quarter statewide unemployment rate of 5 percent, beginning January 1, 2022, any new state Reemployment Assistance claim filed is eligible for up to 12 weeks of benefits,” the DEO said Tuesday.
During 2021, $12 billion in unemployment benefits have been doled out due to the pandemic forcing the state to raise the maximum number of eligible weeks up to 19. Florida’s Republican lawmakers and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) have both actively worked to reduce the number of Floridians receiving benefits and getting them back to work.
Last week, DEO released the Florida jobs report for November showing Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.5 percent. The same month in 2020 showed Florida to have a rate of 5.4 percent.
The report also showed Florida created 51,100 jobs out of the national total of 200,000. DeSantis had praise for the report and said “We’re holding down the fort here in Florida.”
“The state by state numbers came out and Florida’s reporting creating on its own 51,100 jobs out of that 200,000,” DeSantis said. “We continue to lead the way in that. There’s a lot of problems going on when you look at inflation, what they’re doing in Washington. Everything is going up. It’s very difficult to keep up when things are rising this much.”
The algorithm the DEO uses will not, however, affect the maximum $275 weekly payments the state provides to unemployment recipients.
In June, DeSantis pulled Florida out of a federal unemployment program. The federal government previously provided $300 per week as part of the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion spending package from the President Donald Trump administration.
A circuit judge backed DeSantis’ decision.
“This decision belongs solely to the state’s chief executive,” said Judge Layne Smith. “Ultimately, Governor DeSantis’ strategy to promote reemployment by ending Florida’s participation in the FPUC program is a political issue that the voters can approve or reject at the ballot box.”
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