Florida to prematurely end expanded unemployment benefits to force residents back into low-wage work

click to enlarge Florida plans to force low-wage workers back to work by prematurely ending expanded federal unemployment benefits in the state. - photo courtesy Governor's Press Office
photo courtesy Governor's Press Office
Florida plans to force low-wage workers back to work by prematurely ending expanded federal unemployment benefits in the state.

We really should stop being surprised by Florida's mistreatment of workers. Even by the remarkably low standards of the Sunshine State, turning down free, federal subsidies to starve residents into going back to low-wage work is vile.

That's exactly what the state plans to do, according to an announcement from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity on Monday morning. Though the expanded federal subsidies for unemployment assistance sparked by the coronavirus pandemic will run into September, Florida has opted out of the benefit. Expanded unemployment benefits will end in the state in June.

The benefit offered an additional $300 a week to Floridians who were out of work. That amount is nearly as much as a Floridian minimum wage worker would make pre-tax ($346 per week). Florida has the most punitive unemployment assistance program in the nation, tied for last in maximum benefits available and with the shortest amount of available weeks at merely 12. Gov. Ron DeSantis referred to this situation as "fine" earlier in the year, in spite of a bipartisan push to make the program less cruel.

DEO secretary Dane Eagle did little to hide the compulsory nature of this move. In a statement on ending the benefits prematurely, he noted that it was a way to serve the needs of business owners seeking to hire workers who were suddenly a little less desperate.

“Florida’s employers are also seeing employment growth, as more Floridians, including some who completely left the workforce, are now eagerly reentering the workforce," Eagle said. "Transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce.”

The last week of expanded benefits will come on June 26.

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