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Florida ranks among the lowest in the nation for unemployment benefits

Florida's unemployment insurance pay and the duration of benefits are some of the lowest in the U.S. Some lawmakers want Governor DeSantis to change that.
Credit: AP
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference at C.B. Smith Park, Thursday, March 19, 2020, in Pembroke Pines, Fla. The park will be used for a drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The 227,000 Floridians that filed for unemployment last week will receive some of the lowest unemployment benefits in the country. According to fileunemployment.org, Florida ranks in the bottom five for pay from unemployment insurance claims.

  • Mississippi – $235
  • Arizona – $240
  • Louisiana – $247
  • Alabama – $265
  • Florida – $275

Here’s a look at the state's paying the most:

  • Illinois – $1,495
  • Massachusetts – $1,179
  • Maine – $855
  • Ohio – $753
  • Connecticut – $706

Illinois tops out at $1,495 which is more than five times what Floridians will receive.

Representatives Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist are calling on Governor Ron DeSantis to use executive powers to increase the amount of pay and to extend the number of weeks you can receive it to bring unemployment benefits in line with other states.

“This matters to everyone-- whether you've lost your job, you've been furloughed, you're suffering in your small business because we will be less able to bounce back from this economic emergency because we won't have those dollars circulating in our economy. Why put Florida at a distinct disadvantage compared to other states. It doesn't make any sense,” Rep. Castor said.

The governor recently took steps to improve how Floridians apply for unemployment by increasing the number of servers supporting the website, getting more workers to take calls and rolling out paper applications.

Crist says the state's Department of Economic Opportunity should expand options and also allow Floridians to submit apps by email and through a mobile app. 

While the recently passed CARES Act gives additional unemployment benefits on top of what the state gives, lawmakers say the governor should raise the unemployment benefits to at least the national average.

According to Michele Evermore, a Senior Policy Analyst at the National Employment Law Project, that's $366, and the average claim in Florida is $251.

“It is a dire situation. Getting by on $275 from the state and $600 from the feds is simply not enough for most every family,” Rep Crist said.

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