Floridians who call the state for help with unemployment claims should expect wait times to surpass an hour.
“The best time to call, and maybe after a lot of people hear it today it won’t be, is late afternoon,” Department of Management Services Secretary Jonathan Satter told reporters Tuesday. “But be prepared to sit on the phone for about an hour and a half.”
The average hold time for specific claim information reached 99 minutes on Monday.
“Yesterday we had a million phone calls. We’ve had 15 million phone calls since March 15,” said Satter, who was put in charge of the Department of Economic Opportunity’s troubled CONNECT online unemployment system in April. “We haven’t gotten to most of those. Most of those people are hanging up. It is as upsetting to me as it is upsetting to the callers.”
As part of changes to improve the system amid massive job losses because of the coronavirus, the state has scrambled to bring on more computer servers, set up a backup system for people to apply and allowed people to submit claims on paper applications.
Democrats, meanwhile, continue to question Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handling of jobless claims and the number of people being deemed ineligible for assistance.
“Why are so few people still being paid?” Sen. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, said Tuesday in an online call with other Democrats. “You know, the proof of it is what we heard from Secretary Satter. As he finished the press conference, he said they received 1 million phone calls to their office yesterday. One million times. … People are not getting answers.”
DeSantis held a news conference Tuesday to discuss the system, highlighting that the state has paid out $2.6 billion in benefits to nearly 1 million Floridians. He said the call-center labor force has grown from about 40 to 6,000.
The governor has been critical of the CONNECT system, which began operating in 2013 under former Gov. Rick Scott. DeSantis said the system was set up to handle 1,000 individual users at a single time.
“When you’re in a situation like this, that’s the equivalent of throwing a jalopy in the Daytona 500,” DeSantis said. “It’s just not going to cut it and so you need to expand capacity. Big time. We did that.”
From March 15 through Monday, the Department of Economic Opportunity had received more than 2 million applications for unemployment, of which about 1.49 million were considered “unique.”
Among the unique claims, 901,962 people had been found eligible for state unemployment benefits, 97,681 were eligible for federal benefits, and 370,982 had been deemed ineligible. Of the money sent out to claimants, $1.79 billion was from federal stimulus money.
–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
And at the same time GOP Administration had no problem distributing. $billions to big business designated for the little guys.
When someone dare to write a book about inefficiency, corruption and selfdealing, the book will turn into school book for criminal investigators and prosecutors.
As I understand a news piece that was provided by NBC6 Miami, the $ 600 Federal Supplement is in the hands of the State of FL ? That won’t be disbursed until the State of FL does anything with unemployment claims. This was yet another issue I brought up that the actual distributions of Federal Aid was tied to the State of FL Unemployment branch collapsing and unable to actually get anyone unemployment benefits. They say 97% of those eligible, well that may be true, but the last stat I saw, they’ve only processed 3% of the applications for a state wide economic shutdown. 97% of 3% determined eligible is anemically incompetent administration of state unemployment. Meanwhile, Federal money sits in a bank account earning interest, which most likely is actually paying for the unemployment disbursed each week ? End of the day here, the state is controlling federal funds and they have demonstrated that they aren’t capable of handling a state unemployment fund, if the state unemployment fund even exists with enough money to handle a pandemic of unemployment claims ? At the very least the state of FL is obligated by law to provide unemployment up to the $ 275/week for the state unemployment. Failure to do so is criminal. And by being the system that accepted federal deposits, the additional $ 600/week becomes a federal crime when they fail to disburse that money. Something is very wrong with the cheap ways this is being handled. I said when this started that to get a Federal supplement of unemployment that it was contingent upon the state unemployment ever happening. And since the State hasn’t done their end oif it, the Federal relief will never happen. They’re trying to do this without paying out anything because the cost of this fire drill is beyond expensive at this point, to the point that our government is deadbeat on payments. Try doing that with child support or your bills and see how long you aren’t jailed as a criminal. It’s time to replace the incompetent government officials that we have. Anyone believe what they’re telling us as self proclaimed & paid “Essentials” & “Experts”. I think at this stage all government workers need to be uncompensated, take pay cuts, we may see a new perspective from them for getting it done ? Hey, if the execs on Wall Street could work for $ 1 back when Bush prosperity of fraud & abuse, those Ponzi Schemes, ruined the nation with bailouts, certainly our Government can step up and do similar ?
All those millions waiting to receive their benefits so delayed and if ever and all those deemed ineligible for assistance need to think really hard in the incoming elections if they still want to keep Florida a red state so ironically called one of the “Right to Work” one’s. Meanwhile while the taxpayers lost their jobs and are denied their unemployment benefits our city and county governments still spending moneys in non essential projects like drunken sailors…just to satisfy their egos, etc. and corruption is obvious.
What about some needed change?