Congress is considering a plan that would extend unemployment benefits by up to 13 weeks. Right now people can qualify for up to 79 weeks of unemployment pay in Florida, but without an extension 132-thousand Floridians will run out of benefits by the end of the year.
Lilton Duncan is relying on his unemployment check to pay bills and buy groceries. He’s had no luck finding work and is afraid of what will happen when his benefits run out. A plan being discussed in Congress could keep benefits flowing to Lilton for an extra 13 weeks.
“Everybody needs all the help we can get. 13 weeks would be good.”
Robby Cunningham, spokesman for the State Agency for Workforce Innovation, is watching what’s happening in Washington and is ready to jump into action if the legislation passes.
“We are monitoring it very closely and whatever the Department of Labor decides as far as implementation, we will be ready to implement.”
“But if the legislation fails and the job market doesn’t improve 132-thousand Floridians will run out of benefits by year’s end.”
And less money for the unemployed means fewer dollars going back into the state’s economy. The Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy says the impact will be devastating.
John Hall of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy is affects are wide reaching.
“We are talking over 60 million dollars a week of lost economic activity. That’ll have an effect on existing business and people who are employed.”
It’s unclear if people who have already exhausted their benefits will be eligible for the 13 week extension.
There are 984-thousand unemployment Floridians. About one out of every three isn’t receiving benefits.