TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida is one of more than two dozen states planning to end federal unemployment benefits ahead of schedule.
Labor groups are hoping to convince Gov. DeSantis to reverse course on the issue, arguing it will hurt the most vulnerable Floridians.
Floridians receiving $300 a week federal unemployment checks have just three more weeks before the benefits expire. The Florida AFL-CIO said more than 116,000 Floridians will be impacted.
“There are a lot of people out there who need help and need saving,” said Rich Templin with the Florida AFL-CIO.
Jim Ricer, who suffers from a long list of medical ailments said he’s been unable to find a job despite searching for one in a virtual press conference Thursday.
“We are humans. We are not just numbers,” said Ricer.
Florida’s state unemployment benefits max out at $275 a week. Lawmakers attempted to raise that by $100 this past legislative session, but it failed to pass the House after Gov. DeSantis expressed his opposition.
Unions argue, like Ricer, most Floridians currently receiving unemployment are no longer getting benefits from the state, only from the federal government.
“So we’re being told that workers are not seeking employment because they want to sit at home eating bonbons for less than the minimum wage,” said Templin.
State data shows there are more than 460,000 available jobs in Florida and only 150,000 Floridians looking for work.
“So if we’re talking about a worker shortage, this is much more complicated and much more nuanced than folks receiving unemployment benefits,” said State Representative Anna Eskamani.
Eskamani argued the jobs available either don’t align with the skills of those who remain unemployed or aren’t offering competitive salaries.
“It is a buyer’s market. You know, workers are the ones who are in demand so they get to decide where they want to go,” said Eskamani.
The unions have launched an online campaign and petition in hopes of swaying the Governor to keep the federal checks until their set expiration on September 6th.