Florida’s unemployment rate jumps by highest percentage since Great Recession

ORLANDO, Fla. — The preliminary number from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Florida’s unemployment rate jumping by the highest percentage since the Great Recession.

The state’s unemployment rate for March shot up to 4.3% from 2.8% in February.

The preliminary numbers from BLS show 443,000 people now unemployed. That number had been 290,000 at the end of February.

Read: Coronavirus: 4 reasons you didn’t get your stimulus check

Since March 15, the state has paid out just 4.2% of unemployment claims.

On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that from March 15 to April 15, the Department of Economic Opportunity, which runs unemployment, made 33,623 payments to individual Floridians who applied for reemployment assistance benefits, leaving the vast majority of the 825,000 unemployed Floridians waiting.

“I went into the unemployment site this morning, as I have done every day for 3 weeks now, and now it takes you to a different website to re-enter all your information again,” wrote Carla Alvarez in an email to Eyewitness News. “This is very frustrating especially for those that have waited so long for any answers and, or payments.”

Making matters worse, only 23,801 checks for $600 as part of the $2.2 trillion federal stimulus have been mailed to Floridians.

State Department of Management Services Secretary Jonathan Satter, who took oversight of the state’s unemployment efforts Wednesday from Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson, is focused on reducing the claims backlog.

“I know it’s difficult. Be patient. Give us a little bit of time. We have got all of the resources of the enterprise at our beck and call, and we have got a lot of people working 24/7, to get payments out as quickly as possible,” Satter said.