Florida unemployment assistance hits a pandemic low, and fraud gets worse

Rob Wile
·1 min read

New jobless assistance applications in Florida hit a pandemic low last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday.

At the same time, the state’s count of claims flagged for fraud continued to climb.

For the seven days ending Feb. 27, new jobless claims fell from 18,630 to 15,903. That’s the lowest count among states with more than 20 million residents. By comparison, New York saw new claims rise from 47,814 to 59,322, while claims in Texas climbed from 36,401 to 54,170.

Before the pandemic, Florida saw 5,000 to 8,000 new claims a week.

Florida also saw its count of continuing claims, or filings among workers who’ve claimed unemployment for at least two consecutive weeks, fall from 161,881 to 140,683.

But the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s count of claims flagged as fraudulent climbed by about 10,000 week on week, to 56,718. This week, an independent audit commissioned by the DEO said the state’s unemployment system needed a $244 million investment to be fixed.

In a Monday hearing before state senators, Department of Economic Opportunity Director Dane Eagle said the state’s online unemployment system, CONNECT, “did a disservice to the people of Florida.” He is asking for at least $244 million to fix it.

Readers who are aware of any instance of Reemployment Assistance fraud or believe they are a victim of Reemployment Assistance identity theft should visit FloridaJobs.org and navigate to the Reemployment Assistance Service Center, click “claimants” and visit the fraud page.