The re-employment assistance program is slowly getting back to work


Florida’s re-employment assistance program – nearly exploded by unprecedented pandemic crisis demands it couldn’t handle in 2020 – is returning to more normal levels of claims, problematic cases and overall functionality.

The trust fund to cover claims is back over $ 1 billion. The unemployment rate has fallen to 5%. The number of unemployment compensation claims is close to pre-pandemic levels. Almost 90% of the claims adjudicated – those for which payments were suspended due to problems – were resolved. And CONNECT online the overhaul and modernization of the application system is on track to meet its 2023 deadline.

These were the messages delivered Monday to the Senate Committee on Trade and Tourism by Adrienne johnston, Director of Workforce Services at the Department of Economic Opportunity, summarizing where the program stands after the most tumultuous year on record.

“The DEO has worked diligently throughout the pandemic to ensure that Floridians in need receive the re-employment assistance benefits owed to them as quickly as possible,” Johnston told the committee. “We recognize that many applicants have encountered issues with the system throughout this time and are actively working to make the system more user-friendly for Floridians in the future.”

This was his summary of a 50 minute presentation Johnston made for the secretary of the DEO Danish eagle On Monday.

A year ago, after a summer when Florida unemployment exceeded 14%, the CONNECT unemployment benefit system was overwhelmed by millions claims, and it became widely accepted that the system had been designed to frustrate – do not serve – applicants. There could have been some contentious answers on Monday, but they did not come.

Meaning of Democratique. Victor Torres from Orlando and Bobby powell from West Palm Beach asked a few questions about how many people are waiting for benefits and for how long. Representatives of the progressive group Karen woodall and Ida V. Eskamani made comments reminding the panel that many Floridians who have lost their jobs have not received benefits and are suffering.

But a consensus emerged during the committee hearing that the crisis was over, even if the program is not yet where everyone would like it to be.

“It really is a great job that you have done,” said the Republican senator. Tom wright of Port Orange told Johnston.

Among the highlights of Johnston’s presentation:

– Before the economic collapse of the 2020 pandemic, the Florida Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund had $ 4 trillion. The economic collapse has exhausted him – but not to zero, as has happened in some states. The fund’s assets have dropped to just over $ 500 million. The fund has since rebounded to $ 1.3 billion. The fund’s balance is expected to exceed $ 3 billion by the same time next year, according to Johnston.

– Overall, the state has adjudicated over 33 million jobless claims, meaning they were flagged for problems and payment was suspended. That’s a 90% drop, but there are still over 3.4 million issues to be resolved.

– 79% of the jobs lost during the economic collapse of 2020 have been recovered. Florida’s 5% unemployment rate – still higher than the 3.2% seen at the end of 2019 – is in part due to a much larger workforce. More people are in Florida for work.

– Before the collapse, Florida averaged about 23,000 new jobless claims per week. At the worst of the pandemic economic crisis, in the first week of May 2020, Florida received 1.4 million claims. Now it’s back to around 25,000 a week, although that’s largely because federal benefits have been cut and eligibility for Florida unemployment benefits is much stricter.

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