State Watch

Hundreds line up in Florida to apply for unemployment benefits amid issues with state website

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Issues with Florida’s online portal for unemployment applications forced hundreds of South Floridians to line up Tuesday for paper applications despite the health risk during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Hialeah, north of Miami, dozens of people lined up for help, with varying levels of adherence to social distancing protocols. Some wore facial coverings or kept at least six feet apart from one another, while others stood closer or wore no masks, a South Florida NBC affiliate reported.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Monday the state has added staff to its unemployment system, which was unprepared for the surge in applicants who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Since March 15, more than 520,000 Floridians have applied for unemployment, more than the 326,000 who applied throughout 2019.

DeSantis said this week that the state has increased the online unemployment system’s capacity, equipping it to handle up to 120,000 connections at once, which is about twice the peak of the recent usage since the surge began.

A recent study by Oxford Economics named Florida among the states most economically vulnerable to the pandemic, with Florida the most at-risk heavily populated state due to a combination of an older than average population and a state and local economy heavily dependent on retail and tourism.

“Lockdown and containment measures are the key determinants of first-round economic impacts of the coronavirus, but structural economic vulnerabilities determine the severity of second-round impacts,” Oxford lead economist Oren Klachkin wrote, according to Reuters.

Tags Coronavirus Ron DeSantis

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