Florida’s Jobless Must Now Prove They’re Looking for Work to Collect Unemployment Benefits

June 3, 2021 Updated: June 3, 2021

Florida this week tightened eligibility requirements for people to collect unemployment benefits, part of a bid to encourage people to take jobs in the face of businesses’ hiring woes.

Starting June 1, unemployment benefit claimants—with a few exceptions—are required to submit work searches for every week of state or federal benefits requested, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced in an update.

The minimum number of required weekly work searches varies, depending on county population. Claimants living in counties with a population greater than 75,000 must complete at least five work searches, while those living in counties with 75,000 or fewer residents must submit a minimum of three.

Claimants who are on a temporary layoff and will return to the same employer within eight weeks of their last day of work are exempt from the work search requirement, as well as people registered in an approved training program through their local CareerSource Florida center.

Gov. Ron DeSantis waived the job search requirement for unemployment benefit eligibility last year when the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus wreaked havoc on the economy and unemployment surged. He signed an executive order in May that declared the emergency over and suspended all local pandemic-related restrictions.

With restrictions lifted and economic activity rebounding in Florida, business owners have been complaining of difficulty hiring workers.

“Even though our industry is open for business, we are facing a dire labor shortage,” Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association President and CEO Carol Dover said in a statement. “Strong demand, coupled with this staffing shortage, has left many businesses forced to limit operating days and hours in addition to reducing capacity in both food service and lodging.”

In May, DEO announced that it was responding to the hiring concerns by restoring the work search requirement.

“There is a job surplus across the state, and we stand ready to assist Floridians who are out of work as they return to the workforce,” DEO Secretary Dane Eagle said in a May 12 statement.

Since then, Florida officials announced an early end to the $300 weekly federal pandemic unemployment compensation supplement, joining dozens of other Republican-led states to opt-out of the jobless benefit boost to encourage people to take jobs.

“Florida’s economy has bounced back tremendously with over 460,000 jobs available throughout our state and the strongest economic conditions in the nation,” Eagle said in a statement. “Florida’s employers are also seeing employment growth, as more Floridians, including some who completely left the workforce, are now eagerly reentering the workforce.

“Transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce.”

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