The pandemic crippled Florida’s unemployment system, causing the state’s website, CONNECT, to melt down from the jobless claims.
The state started paying just 28% of claims on time, which did improve but not enough to drag Florida off the floor of the Department of Labor’s rankings.
“The department made a concentrated effort to pay [federal pandemic] payments
as quickly as possible, outside of the CONNECT system,” spokeswoman for the Department of Economic Opportunity Tiffany Vause said in a statement. “We felt as though ensuring Floridians had this payment as quickly as possible was the priority.”
Florida’s unemployment program has been near the bottom of the pack for making timely payments, as the state typically ranks near the bottom of the list each year.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, who was named to a newlycreated Senate committee to address pandemic issues, including unemployment, said the state has a broken system.
“Nobody thinks the unemployment system worked well,” Brandes said. “You had essentially total system failure for weeks on end, and a lack of leadership that required the governor to replace the executive in charge of the agency.”
More than 2.1 million Floridians have filed unemployment claims since mid-March, when the pandemic hit.
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