Although many Florida businesses are still struggling to attract and retain staff, recently-released economic figures suggest that the employment rate in Florida has improved enough to scale back unemployment benefits.
What It Means:
Starting in 2022, unemployed Floridians will still receive a maximum of $275 per week in benefits, but the duration of benefits is being lowered from 19 to 12 weeks. So in 2022, unemployed Floridians will lose up to seven weeks of eligibility.
Why It Changed:
The unemployment rate in Florida has been decreasing while the number of available jobs is on the rise.
According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Tampa Bay area gained 73,700 jobs in November 2021. The Department credits Governor Ron DeSantis' "Freedom First" approach with helping Florida to recover its economy faster than other states.
Meanwhile, the National Conference of State Legislatures says that Florida's unemployment rate has been at or below 5 percent since August of 2021.
The State of Florida takes these figures into account when determining the duration of benefit eligibility.
According to FDOE's website, the State uses the average unemployment rate for a year's third quarter to determine the duration of benefits for the unemployed. If the unemployment rate is at or below 5 percent (which it was,) the maximum duration of benefits is 12 weeks.
Florida's Unemployment Path During the COVID-19 Pandemic:
In the spring of 2020 as COVID became widespread, Florida relaxed some of its previous unemployment requirements. The State waived the search for work requirement and expanded the program to allow self-employed and gig workers to collect benefits.
The 2022 duration changes to unemployment benefits reflect Florida's focus on continuing to strengthen the economy.
Some Aid Programs Remain Active:
Although unemployment benefits are lessening, there is still aid offered to qualifying Floridians for food and rent.