Report gives Florida low marks for unemployment benefits

(AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Capital News Service) – Are Florida’s jobless being shut out by the state when they’re in need of unemployment benefits? As Matt Galka tells us, a new report says yes, and that Florida’s tougher on job seekers than any other state.

It’s another day of job hunting for Wendy Strickland.

“I want to work,” she said.

It’s tough for Strickland, and right now it’s even tougher playing the waiting game for unemployment benefits.

“I’m applying for them, I’m waiting to see if they’re going to come through. That’s the challenge. The waiting period, you know what I mean? While I’m waiting, I’m trying to be actively looking for a position or a job,” she said.

A new report says Strickland isn’t alone.  The National Employment Law Project says just 12 percent of unemployed Floridians receive benefits – the lowest rate in the nation. The national average is 27 percent.

Stiffer requirements for benefits and fewer payout weeks contributed to Florida’s low ranking.

The Department of Economic opportunity said the study wasn’t painting an accurate picture. DEO spokespeople responded in a statement and pointed to the nearly one million jobs created in the last five years and the decline in unemployment rate.

The Governor said his focus is on creating jobs.

“We have over 270 thousand job openings in our state, so my big focus is how do we make sure everyone can get a job,” said Gov. Rick Scott (R-Florida) at an event in Panama City.

The report focused on the past four years in Florida: a time period where unemployment was marred by skills tests and clunky computer filing systems.

Florida’s unemployment rate sits at 5.3 percent, just above the national unemployment rate of 5.1 percent.

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