TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida’s unemployment system spent the majority of 2020 trying to catch up on millions of unemployment applications and, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Labor, the state had the second-worst unemployment system in the country.
According to federal data analyzed by the Associated Press, Florida was the second-worst state in the country at paying benefits on time. Only 57 percent of Floridians who filed for benefits in 2020 received their first payment within three weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The only state worse was Hawaii.
The statistics come as no surprise to Florida residents, who watched as the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s CONNECT system became overwhelmed. Gov. Ron DeSantis placed the blame on the system creator, Deloitte Consulting.
Deloitte, however, developed two other states’ unemployment systems during the same year — New Mexico and Massachusetts. Both held up against the pandemic, with response rates to initial unemployment claims above the national average.
Now the agency is asking for additional funding for more employees to continue handling unemployment claims, some of which have sat stagnant for more than 6 months.
Since March, more than 2.1 million Floridians have filed new unemployment claims.
Last week, new unemployment claims dropped by just over 6,000 to around 21,000 — a coronavirus low.
Nationally, unemployment began to skyrocket from 282,0000 to nearly 6.9 million in March as states went into lockdown, leaving more than 700,000 people filing new unemployment claims each week.
By Friday, unemployment was down to 6.7 percent across the country, largely due to seasonal hiring and more people wanting to work.
“In November, the number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job increased by 448,000 to 7.1 million,” a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. “This measure is 2.2 million higher than in February.”