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Federal unemployment funds expire Saturday for Floridians

Florida DEO
Posted at 8:23 AM, Jun 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-26 13:14:19-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The state of Florida will end its participation in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program of $300 per week supplemental FPUC Saturday.

This is part of Gov. Ron DeSantis' return to work initiative, trying to fill the gap in employee shortage across the state.

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the state has more than 460,000 jobs available across various employment websites and job listing services.

La Tiendita is one of the local restaurants that has had a shortage of employees since the beginning of the pandemic.

"It affects us with service and efficiency, but not only that, it also puts stress on the people who are already working here," Taina Correa, manager & server at La Tiendita, said.

Correa said the owners have put tables away in the basement to help the situation.

"We did have 27 tables, right now we have 20, but it looks like we might get short on staff again, so we might have to reduce it again," Correa said.

State leaders hope the return to work initiative is focused on encouraging Floridians to return to the workforce, helping employers attract job seekers and continuing to fuel the state’s economic growth.

Dr. Rich Templin with the Florida American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations doesn't think it will do that.

"That 300 dollars," Dr. Templin said. "That's keeping a roof over their head. That's keeping food on the table, while they're trying to look for work."

He said his organization sent a petition of 7,000 signatures to Governor Desantis urging him to change his mind.

The governor said he believes the shortage of employees is because of extra funds given to people who are unemployed.

However, Dr. Templin believes people will go back to work if the incentive is there.

"Look at the Walt Disney company theme park in Orlando," Dr. Templin said. "The minimum wage is $14 an hour. Everybody has access to health care. Everybody has paid sick leave. and guess what, Disney is having no problem welcoming all the cast members back to work."

The owners of La Tiendita are trying to do more for their employees by offering higher than minimum wage salaries.

However, they said in order to do more, they need more employees first.

Additional federal Reemployment Assistance benefit programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC), will continue for the time being as DEO continues to carefully monitor job posting and industry hiring trends.

These additional federal benefit programs are set to expire on September 6, 2021.