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Floridians Wait Weeks For Unemployment Application Approval, Benefits

Disney World workers protested Florida's unemployment system from their homes across Orlando. Photo credit: Unite Here

Initial jobless claims in Florida dropped by more than half last week compared to the prior week, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures released Thursday. More than half of eligible Floridians are still awaiting benefit payments.

Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity says 1.1 million unique claims have been filed with the state’s unemployment system, and only 481,497 have received benefits.

DEO has been shutting down its online portal at night to fast-track approving or denying claims, but some are still waiting weeks for a decision.

Airport restaurant server Hilda Renteria-Hernandez said she applied for benefits March 20. Her application is still pending.

“I really need this money. I need to make sure that I’m okay, that I’m paying my bills, that I’m doing the things that make me feel good in my life. And I’m not able to do that at all right now.” She hasn’t received any state or federal benefits due to the application hold up.

The unemployment system has struggled to keep up with the demand of out-of-work Floridians.

“I’m really angry that I’m having to wait so long for these benefits that the Governor or the government could fix,” said Renteria-Hernandez. “I want these benefits to be fixed. I want this system to be fixed.”

Governor Ron DeSantis announced an investigation into the $78 million dollar unemployment system which was approved by then-Governor Rick Scott.


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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to ... Read Full Bio »