Florida’s unemployment website is down, again, and will be for days as Floridians report waiting weeks for payments, processing

ORLANDO, Fla. — Floridians wondering if the state has finally processed their unemployment claim were greeted with disappointment Friday.

A message posted on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s CONNECT website reads, “Welcome to CONNECT, Florida’s Online Application for Reemployment Assistance. CONNECT is currently processing payments. We apologize for the inconvenience. CONNECT will be available at 8:00 a.m. Monday, April 27.”

READ: ‘Designed to fail’: How systematic failures led to Florida’s jobless benefits filing woes

Unemployed workers in Central Florida and across the state say that’s frustrating when they’ve already been waiting weeks for progress updates on their unemployment claims.

Kevin Friedman, who was furloughed from Red Lobster on March 20, said he expected it to take awhile for the system to catch up to the increased demand, but not this long.

"I have been in the system for over a month now and I haven’t heard anything back yet,” he said.

As of Thursday, the DEO had only processed 31% of its claims received since March 15. Less than 22% of verified claims have been paid.

The number of people paid has fluctuated by the day, with 34,000 people getting paid between Wednesday and Thursday.

Department of Management Services Secretary Jonathan Satter, who was put in in charge of the system last week, said the agency will be working all weekend to process applications that have already been filed, adding staff can do that more quickly when the website is down.

“We needed all the processing power we could get, to process payments," Satter said. "We have a number of large batch jobs that were ready. Rather than place a lot of drain on the system today and over the weekend, we said ‘let’s take it down.’ Let’s process as many payments as we can.”

With the main site down, the state has made a second system available for people to apply and DEO is still accepting paper applications. However, claimants will not be able to check for updates to their status this weekend.

The state has now processed nearly 220,000 claims, out of 700,000 unique submissions. In total, about 154,000 claimants have been paid nearly $160 million.

In 2013, Florida spent $77 million on the CONNECT website, the state recently signed contracts to spend another $119 million to bolster and fix the service.

READ: Why are so many unemployment claims still pending in Florida?

In total, Florida has spent more to build and fix unemployment than it has in paying claims to out of work Floridians.

Click here or watch the video below for a more detailed history of Florida’s unemployment system:

One out of every four American adults say someone in their household has lost a job to the coronavirus pandemic, but the vast majority expect those former jobs will return once the crisis passes, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

READ: AP-NORC poll: Most losing jobs to virus think they’ll return

According to the poll, 46% of all Americans say their household has experienced some form of income loss from layoffs, reduced hours, unpaid leave or salary reductions.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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