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Governor DeSantis says maximum weekly unemployment benefit is 'fine'

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Posted at 5:25 PM, Apr 16, 2021

LAKELAND, Fla — Florida’s labor stats show recovery across the state. In February and March, the unemployment rate statewide and in Tampa sat at 4.7% versus 6% nationwide.

“We are continuing to see job growth, businesses are adding jobs back across the state, across industries,” said Adrienne Johnston, the DEO’s Chief Economist. “But, it’s not coming back as we… we had a huge decline very fast, so it’s going to take time for that to grow back and be back to those pre-pandemic levels.”

Johnston says it considers full employment to be a rate between 4% and 5%.

“By definition, we are well within that range, but what we want to see is people continuing to move back into the labor market,” she said.

In a news conference Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis said he’d like to see it under 4%.

“There is demand in the economy for hiring and that’s a good thing, much different than it was a year ago,” he said.

But, since 1998, the state hasn’t factored in the cost of living when it comes to unemployment benefits. In those years, that’s increased by about 63%.

In 2020, hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Floridians felt the sting of just $275 a week, a maximum weekly benefit amount that is one of the lowest in the country.

It’s why lawmakers have been pushing legislation through the House and Senate, that would raise that by at least $100 a week. But, the Governor doesn’t seem on board.

“Our unemployment is what it is; it’s fine, the federal government has put in a lot of money, how much we paid out? 26 $26 billion. That’s got to be more than the previous 10 or 20 years combined, so we paid out a lot.”

The updated labor stats still show nearly half a million Floridian’s are still unemployed and the state lost nearly half a million jobs over the year which was more than the national rate.

View all labor data from March here.