$300 supplement for unemployed set to expire Saturday; advocates ask that DeSantis give an extension

By: - June 23, 2021 3:40 pm

Jobless workers demonstrate in Miami Springs in support of continued federal unemployment benefits in the pandemic economy. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Though a $300 per week federal unemployment supplement expires this Saturday, the Florida AFL-CIO and other advocates are calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to keep the supplement going as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

On Thursday, the union plans to deliver a petition of more than 6,000 signatures to DeSantis’ office — signatures from the AFL-CIO, the Tallahassee-based Florida People’s Advocacy Center and other organizations.

The groups also plan a press conference Thursday, as the clock ticks down on the last day of the $300 supplement on Saturday.

“The idea that ending these benefits will end Florida’s so-called ‘hiring crisis’ is a shaky one at best. In reality, this move will only damage our local communities by pulling roughly $700 million in stimulus funds out of our economy. Those funds will now go to states still enrolled in the program. This short-sighted move will only hurt out of work Floridians and pass up federal funding vital to our economic recovery,” the AFL-CIO said in a news release.

While the advocacy groups call the $300 supplement a lifeline for the unemployed, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in an announcement in May, described the situation as a “Return to Work” initiative.

Meanwhile, some unemployed workers continue to struggle to find work.

Florida already has the lowest unemployment benefits in the nation, based on a combination of 12 weeks and a maximum amount of $275 a week in payments.

In the spring legislative session, both Democrats and some Republicans pushed to enhance Florida’s unemployment benefits, but the effort failed.

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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