Florida Gets Stingy With Jobless Benefits

State will limit benefits, tie eligibility to unemployment rate
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2011 7:27 PM CDT
Job seekers line up to register at a City of Miami job fair in Miami last year.   (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

(Newser) – Florida is poised to become what the Huffington Post calls the "stingiest state" in America on unemployment benefits. A bill waiting for the governor's signature would cut the maximum number of weeks people could get benefits from the state from 26 to 23. It would also put into place an unprecedented sliding scale: As the unemployment rate dropped, so, too, would the number of weeks people could draw. If it dipped below 5%, for example, people could get a maximum of 12 weeks of benefits, notes CNN.

The only way people could get the full 23 weeks is if the rate is 10.5% or higher. Florida has one of the highest jobless rates in the nation at 11.1%, and critics say lawmakers are piling on with the bill, which also seeks to toughen eligibility and job-search requirements. But one defender sees it as necessary. "It gives the message that Florida is trying to become the most business-friendly state in the country," says GOP Rep. Doug Holder. The federal government has pitched in money to extend benefits to 99 weeks for the jobless in Florida and other states amid the recession, but those extensions are due to expire in January, notes HuffPo.

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