TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Floridians receiving the weekly $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit will no longer be able to collect that payment as of June 26, the state announced in a news release Monday.
What You Need To Know
- On June 26, the $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit will end in Florida
- State officials announced the unemployment benefit change Monday
- The federal benefits were scheduled to expire on Sept. 6
Several other federal jobless benefits programs — including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation — will expire on Sept. 6.
"Transitioning away from this (FPUC) benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce," said Dane Eagle, Secretary of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in the release.
State labor officials said private-sector employment increased by 18,800 jobs last month and more than 460,000 online job postings were made throughout the state for job seekers.
The owners at Maxine’s on Shine said they met with their staff, and when it became time to post a help wanted sign, they made sure they could offer both new and old employees fair pay.
They say they hope other businesses like theirs will do the same.
“Essentially, about six weeks ago is really when we started to have the opportunity to actually bring on other people," said Kirt Earhart, who co-owns Maxine's on Shine with his wife Maxine.
The Earharts know what their prospective candidates will be looking for higher wages and the question became, how do they provide that?
“I think in general, restaurants would like to give their employees more money, it’s just that we’d have to raise our prices to be able to make more of a profit," said Maxine Earhart.
Instead of that, the Earharts worked to find a way to ensure all of their employees would make at least $15 an hour.
Some benefits the Earharts added for their employees include more vacation time and a full day of pay to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Regional Director Keri Burns said for many businesses, compensation is just as much about pay as it is about benefits.
That's one of the reasons why some people haven’t come back to work yet, she said.
“The benefits were maybe not as good as they could’ve been for people," said Burns. "A lot of our restaurants have definitely made changes to how much they’re offering, and been very, I would say, creative in the benefits they’re offering now.”
Burns says businesses are starting to offer things like comped meals, signing bonuses, higher wages and extra vacation time.
“The good news is, there are jobs, there are jobs out there, there are great jobs out there," Burns said.
Someone who is self-employed and currently receiving the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation now earns $125 for PUA plus $300 for FPUC per week. After June 26, that person will only receive up to $125 per week.
The federal benefits for the unemployed came on top of the state benefits which top off at $275 a week, among the lowest in the nation.
Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, was quick to respond to the decision.
"It’s been made clear time and time again that Florida’s governor does not care about our state's workers," Eskamani said in a statement. "Not only did he dismiss bipartisan efforts during the legislative session to increase Florida’s criminally low weekly benefit amount by $100, but today his administration has decided to strip away critical federal support that hundreds of thousands of people rely on.
"It’s shameful that Florida’s political leaders would choose ideological talking points and call workers lazy versus listen to the obstacles workers have faced in finding suitable work in our still recovering economy. Our office continues to be flooded with phone calls and emails from folks missing weeks, if not months, of unemployment benefits. The state should prioritize people in need — not make it harder for them to get back on their feet."
At least 22 other states also have announced plans to end the enhanced benefits early.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.