Unemployment taxes going up for Florida employers

Coronavirus

In this photo taken Thursday, June 4, 2020, a pedestrian wearing a mask walks past reader board advertising a job opening for a remodeling company, in Seattle. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, and 2.5 million jobs were added — a surprisingly positive reading in the midst of a recession that has paralyzed the economy and depressed the job market in the wake of the viral pandemic. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) More than five million people have filed for unemployment benefits in Florida.

The new unemployment milestone comes as Florida employers begin the new year with higher taxes to cover unemployment benefits.

Florida employers were sent a notice about the increase from the State Department of Revenue. It let them know their cost of doing business will increase in order to help replenish the state’s reemployment trust fund.

Businesses could see their rate go from one tenth of a percent to nearly three tenths of a percent on the first $7,000 in wages.

“Any payroll-based tax increase is not good for the small business climate,” Bill Herrle with the National Federation of Small Business said.

While no hike is ideal, the increase will keep Florida’s fund stable, according to Herrle.

“Business owners are the sole payers into the unemployment system, so they have a strong stake hold in making sure we continue to pay benefits, and we don’t get into a very high debt that will cause rates to go up even higher,” Herrle said.

Unlike the 2008 recession, when Florida had to borrow $2.7 billion to pay unemployment claims, this year the fund is solvent and above water.

In a catch 22, many businesses are having trouble hiring such as the Goodwill of the Big Bend who can’t fill vacancies.

“We have anywhere from forty to sixty jobs postings at all times, so we are constantly in the market looking for qualified employees,” said Goodwill Industries of the Big Bend CEO Fred Shelfer.

The new round of stimulus and unemployment payments will likely push more people out of the job market, putting pressure on companies to pay more to fill vacancies.

The maximum reemployment tax rate for employers with poor records remains at 5.4 percent of the first $7,000 in wages.

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