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DeSantis says early withdrawal from federal unemployment easing hiring struggle

'People were desperate,' governor says
Posted at 10:15 AM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 10:15:43-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The governor said Monday his early end to federal unemployment boosts has helped businesses hire in the Sunshine State.

In late June, DeSantis terminated the weekly $300 supplements about two months early. Along with more than 20 other GOP-controlled states, he hoped to drive the unemployed back into the workforce. Florida alone had hundreds of thousands of available jobs.

"We had half a million job openings in Florida, almost," DeSantis said. "People were desperate."

That desperation now subsiding, the Republican told reporters at a north Florida news conference. He touted the withdraw as a wise solution.

Gov. Ron DeSantis hold news conference in Green Cove Springs on July 12, 2021

"Employers have said, since we made that change, there's some that have said they had more applications in like three weeks than the previous three months," DeSantis said.

The CEO of Tallahassee printing company Altrua Global Solutions backed the governor's claim. Owner and CEO Melode Smelko said a weak trickle of job seekers is now a steady stream.

"We are seeing more and more applicants out there," she said. "We're seeing more qualified applicants out there. So, I think it had has helped."

Melode Smelko agrees with governor's decision to end federal unemployment benefits in Florida early
Melode Smelko, owner and CEO of Tallahassee printing company Altrua Global Solutions, says she believes the decision to end federal unemployment benefits early has helped ease the hiring struggle.

Critics, however, have said poor wages continue to be the biggest hindrance to hiring. They would like to see the boost program reinstated to keep evictions and utility shutoffs at bay.

"Floridians are still struggling right now. Every day we receive new emails and phone calls and tweets," Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, said. "In fact, we have been flooded with people that are asking for the benefits to not only be reinstated, but for people to be sued to bring the benefits back."

Workers in at least four states have filed suits to make that happen. Florida was not yet among them, though Eskamani said labor attorneys were in talks with Florida AFL-CIO.

The labor union had yet to offer details on what that litigation would look like or how close it was to filing suit. A union spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment on the possible litigation.