• Double shot of bad news for Florida's unemployed


    CENTRAL FLORIDA - There's bad news for two groups that are out of work: those that have had to extend their unemployment benefits because they've been searching for so long and those workers who have just recently lost their jobs.

    "I was a secretary, and I was replaced by automation," said Joan Black, who lost her job.

    Black, 74, is among two million Americans looking for work but unable to find it.

    Unless Congress steps in her benefits just expired.

    "If push comes to shove we'll probably have to move in with one our kids. They wouldn't be too thrilled about that," said Black.

    There is also bad news for Floridians who just started getting help.

    Beginning this month the state is reducing unemployment benefits from 23 weeks to 19 weeks.

    In 2011, Florida became the first state to tie the length of benefits to the state's unemployment rate, and the rate just went down.

    Worker advocates say it is extremely tough to get a job in Florida right now. They say there is only one job for every four job seekers.

    "It's going to make it tougher for people like me," said Mike Tompkins.

    Tompkins, a former landscaper, is on unemployment for the first time in his life.

    He said since losing his job six weeks ago, he's applied for more than 80 jobs.

    "I know it's harder to find a job right now than it's ever been before in my lifetime," said Tompkins.

    He said he hopes to find a job before his 19 weeks of Florida unemployment benefits run out. He said that even with the benefits he's struggling to survive.

    "We're even talking about putting some things up for sale because we have an electric bill that's due," said Tompkins.

    The National Employment Law Project says it takes the average unemployed worker 40 weeks to find a job.

    Because Florida's unemployment benefits are tied to the unemployment rate, if that rate drops, the length of time the unemployed could collect benefits could be reduced further.

    According to officials, the length of time to collect benefits won't be fewer than 12 weeks.

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