Florida is the latest state to end the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program. The Department of Economic Opportunity announced that the state would discontinue the program at the end of June.
Florida is the 23rd GOP-led state to end the benefit. A total of 4 million laid-off Americans will forgo roughly $23.3 billion in benefits, according to The Century Foundation.
The program offered unemployed Floridians an additional $300 in weekly benefits.
The state benefits are equivalent to earning $6.87 per hour. The state’s maximum amount has not changed since 1998. Last month, Florida lawmakers decided not to increase the amount.
According to the Department of Economic Opportunity, there are more than 460,000 jobs available in Florida.
“The jobs are there,” Governor Ron DeSantis said during a press conference on Monday. “I’m confident, with almost half a million job openings, that people are going to be able to get a job and get back to work.”
According to Tampa Bay Times, more than $22 billion in federal benefits and $5.9 billion in state benefits were distributed during the pandemic.
Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, was quick to respond to the decision.
“It’s been made clear time and time again that Florida’s governor does not care about our state’s workers,” Eskamani said in a statement. “Not only did he dismiss bipartisan efforts during the legislative session to increase Florida’s criminally low weekly benefit amount by $100, but today his administration has decided to strip away critical federal support that hundreds of thousands of people rely on.
“It’s shameful that Florida’s political leaders would choose ideological talking points and call workers lazy versus listen to the obstacles workers have faced in finding suitable work in our still-recovering economy. Our office continues to be flooded with phone calls and emails from folks missing weeks, if not months, of unemployment benefits. The state should prioritize people in need — not make it harder for them to get back on their feet.”
Many of the states announcing an end to benefits have lower vaccination rates, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program will end nationwide in September.
Beginning June 26, 2021, @FLDEO will no longer participate in providing the $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits in addition to Reemployment Assistance weekly benefits. Read more: https://t.co/JhCeIp8NIc pic.twitter.com/rY7p3Wg2vQ
— Florida DEO (@FLDEO) May 24, 2021