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$300 unemployment checks ending Saturday

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 4:02 PM CDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE)- Tens of thousands of unemployed Floridians will lose an additional $300 a week in benefits after Friday. The state made the decision to end the payments, which could have lasted until September, early because many believe the checks are keeping people from working. Florida still has half a million unemployed. At the same time, businesses are struggling to fill more than half a million jobs.

“Thirty-four percent of small business owners report that they’ve increased wages in the last three months,” said Bill Herrle with the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

The federation told us 57 percent of its members couldn’t find someone to work over the last three months.

“We’ve always asked this question on job openings. This is at a 40-year record, and it continues to climb,” said Herrle.

More than 2.3 million Floridians were eligible for the $300 a week additional pandemic payments that end Saturday.

“Yes there is a workforce shortage, but to completely blame it on unemployed people is wrong,” said State Representative Anna Eskamani.

Eskamani’s office has been ground zero for helping the unemployed navigate benefits.

“Some are still furloughed, some have child care expenses, some are too old to be on their feet all day, in the sense, they don’t have the ability to do that. They need a job that can meet their level of skill and comfort,” said Eskamani.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, pawn shops are seeing something they’ve never seen: People have stopped borrowing. While borrowing is down, check cashing is up.

“People are getting more money, so there wasn’t the urgency of getting money from me,” said Tallahassee pawnshop owner Mark Folmar.

So far the idea that people aren’t working because they can make more staying home is unproven, but the picture could be clearer after the $300 a week checks end Saturday. Florida’s unemployed have also been required to actively look for work to collect benefits since the end of May. A person must make three or five contacts a week, depending on the size of the county in which they live.