Locals seem to agree the state’s unemployment system is broken, but they don’t agree on how to fix it

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 9:53 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - While some would say unemployment benefits aren’t good enough, others would say they’re the reason people aren’t applying for jobs.

“The unemployment system has really failed our community,” Northwest Florida Federation of Labor Panama City chapter president Frederick Croon said.

Croon said they support state senate bill 50 which would take money from online taxes and bring in more money for the state. Croon said they’re requesting that money goes towards the unemployment system.

“One of the reasons the unemployment system has been failing is because our rates are one of the lowest in the nation,” said Croon.

According to ZipRecruiter, people drawing unemployment get $275 a week per person or about $7 per hour in the state. The owner of Southern Crunch Seafood and Chicken in Panama City, Nather Baraka, said there need to be more restrictions on unemployment.

“If there are jobs available in the market then there shouldn’t be widely open unemployment,” said Barakat.

On the other hand, Croon is requesting three things from state senate bill 50; An increase to the weekly unemployment wage, an increase in the number of weeks unemployed people would get paid, and helping aid more people.

“I requested instead of $275, possibly $375,” said Croon.

Croon said this will help stimulate the economy. He said if people have more money to spend, they’ll spend it at local businesses. Barakat said if Croon get’s his three requests approved, it will have a very negative impact on small businesses.

“We don’t have the luxury of having so many people on the payroll and if two or three decide not to work anymore, this is really hard,” said Barakat.

Barakat said in his opinion, unemployment probably pays more than getting a job and is the reason people aren’t applying.

“The biggest basis from some of the people I’ve talked to is that the salary was so low, that some of the people feel like ‘if you’re going to pay me the minimum wage, then why should I be employed,” said Croon.

But Croon is crossing his fingers.

“The House bill hasn’t passed yet, but we hope the members of the house would meet the three goals we’re requesting,” said Croon.

If passed, this act would take effect July 1st.

CareerSource director of communications Brittany Rock said in a statement:

“There are many reasons a person may be unemployed, reasons that are either voluntary or involuntary. People may find themselves having recently completed training and actively searching for employment that aligns with the acquired education and skills; people may find themselves experiencing difficulty finding a role that matches their current skills and experience; people may also be impacted by outside factors including transportation, childcare, and health issues.”

CareerSource Gulf Coast just released February’s unemployment rate. They say it was 3.7%, or 3,492 people, in Bay, Gulf, and Franklin Counties. CareerSource cites this rate is .4% higher than the region’s rate a year ago at 3.3%.

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