State and Federal Unemployment Benefit Cuts Cost Millions for Workers and Florida’s Economy

As of October Florida’s unemployment rate was 10.3%, the lowest unemployment level since mid- 2009. This unemployment rate represents 955,000 jobless people out of a labor force of 9,228,000.This December unemployed Floridians face imminent cuts to their benefits both from the state and federal governments. If congress does not renew the Extended Benefits (EB) and Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) programs by January 1, 2012, tens of thousands of Floridians currently receiving unemployment benefits funded by the federal government will be cut off. Approximately 131,000 Floridians would be cut off from benefits, representing the loss of $30 million per week for the state’s economy. Changes to Florida’s law which reduced the maximum number of weeks from 26 to 23 will further reduce the number of weeks of federally funded benefits that unemployed workers will be eligible for. At an average weekly benefit of $231.37, the impact of the state changes and the reduction of federal weeks it will trigger amounts to a loss of $2,776 per individual, or $311 million a year based on the number of exhaustions in the most recent 12 months. If Congress decides to dramatically reduce the amount of federally funded weeks as well, the impact could be over $1.5 billion in 2012.

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