Florida extends work search waiver for unemployment, SNAP benefits

Florida Unemployment

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida unemployment recipients now have until December before they’ll have to prove they’re appyling for jobs to collect benefits.

The work search and registration waiver previously allowed by Governor Ron DeSantis had been set to expire this weekend before his eleventh hour extension Friday. He has now extended the provision several times.

A similar work requirement for SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, had been waived due to the pandemic. 8 On Your Side inquired with the Florida Department of Children and Families Friday to learn that waiver has also been extended, but only through October.

Pre-pandemic, most adults under 50 receiving food stamps had to prove they were working, searching for work, or participating in job training at least 80 hours a month.

Community activist Vanessa Brito lobbied the governor’s office through phone calls and emails all week urging him to extend. She says it’s a crucial reprieve for furloughed workers who have a job they’re waiting to go back to.

“Really unfair to these people who are trying to hold onto their positions,” she said. “In some cases it’s like maybe you’ll be back in a week, maybe back in a month.”

She said it’s also important for those who cannot return to work until the pandemic conditions improve.

“I think it would hurt more people than it would help,” Brito said of reinstating the work search requirement. “There aren’t that many jobs available.”

Some critics argue that is not longer the case, with Americans in some industries returning to work.

Data released Friday by the Department of Labor shows the US economy added nearly 1.4 million jobs in August, bringing the national unemployment rate to 8.4 percent, the lowest it’s been since the onset of the pandemic.

Dane Eagle, the newly-appointed Florida DEO director, came under some fire this week for a previous tweet that read “The American taxpayer should not have their tax dollars used to pay people more to stay home.”

While some jobs are returning to the economy, economists tell NBC News many of those are furloughed workers returning and not new jobs that people can apply for.

Unemployment data continues to show Florida suffering some of the slowest unemployment recovery in the nation, with the decimation of the hospitality industry. Florida was experiencing near-record low unemployment prior to the pandemic.

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