Unemployment claims surge amid coronavirus pandemic

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TAMPA (WFLA) – Right now, the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is clear as many people are already losing their livelihoods.  On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor released data that showed a staggering rise in jobless claims across the country. 

The number of people applying for first-time unemployment benefits drastically increased last week.

Specifically, there was an increase of approximately 70,000 more claims. Financial experts say, this is a huge jump. 

According to the Department of Labor release, the increase is clearly attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“There’s going to be Florida businesses that are going to take it on the chin,” said Governor Ron DeSantis during a news conference on Thursday afternoon.

This comes as authorities announce that beaches in Sarasota, Manatee and Pinellas counties will soon be closed.

Gov. DeSantis said unemployment was down to 2.8 percent.  But, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, some businesses are sending workers home.

“We’re going to be exiting this on the backend of this COVID looking at a different economic picture,” said Gov. DeSantis. 

DeSantis is confident Florida will rebound.

“The great thing about unemployment is it’ll last 23 weeks,” said Terin Cremer, an employment lawyer based in Tampa. 

According to Mrs. Cremer, if you lost your job solely because of the outbreak, you can apply for unemployment benefits online.  

To collect, you must show that you were employed for longer than 90 days in Florida as well as some other requirements.

“You are able to be employed and that you are actively looking for employment,” said Mrs. Cremer.

Right now, some employers are choosing to furlough workers instead of firing them. 

“If you’re furloughed and you only work one day a week, do you still qualify for unemployment benefits?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi.

“Yes, generally Florida would consider that to be a part-time loss of income and so you’d be able to file for unemployment for those 4 days of lost income per week,” said Mrs. Cremer.

If your employment has been negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19, you can visit FloridaJobs.org and click on Reemployment Assistance Service Center to learn more about how to apply for benefits.

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about the program amid the current pandemic.

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