Senator to unemployed in Florida: ‘Please keep trying’ to apply for benefits

Career Source Broward to hold virtual job fair on Friday

MIAMI – The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is failing Danny Ferrell. He said he has been out of work for two weeks.

The passing of the federal $2 trillion emergency bill was of no avail. Ferrell has been trying to apply for unemployment insurance benefits, but the state doesn’t have the capability to process his application.

Ferrell said the web site doesn’t work. When he calls the state agency, Ferrell said he gets the same message --- every time.

“Due to Covid-19, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is currently experiencing higher than average wait times,” Ferrell said, adding that he hasn’t been able to talk to anyone.

All he and many others have gotten out of the state is a tweet: “We apologize for the inconvenience.” And that was more than a week ago. This week, officials did acknowledge the site was undergoing maintenance.

“Times are tough and no one cares," Ferrell said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday he definitely cares. He also said he was going to get a progress report from his staff. But The Tampa Bay Times reported state auditors had warned him last year that the website was still suffering major problems.

“My direction has been,” DeSantis said, "‘Don’t spare any expense! Hire who we need to hire.'”

Career Source Broward, a business center for job seekers and employers, is holding a virtual job fair on Friday. Mason C. Jackson has been at the helm of the organization for three decades.

Jackson released a statement saying the state’s “reemployment” system is experiencing unprecedented demand amid the ongoing pandemic.

“They are doing everything in their power to increase capacity, including hiring additional staff, increasing internet bandwidth and possibly contracting with a call center to provide more customer service,” Jackson said.

Ferrell’s bills aren’t waiting. Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Democrat, said every time he and others have tried to make improvements to the unemployment insurance benefits, Republicans have resisted.

Florida is among the eight states in the country that offer less time in unemployment benefits. DeSantis has recently removed, including the work-search rule and the wait-week rule.

“On the one hand, we have billions of dollars. On the other hand, we have constituents who need it, and in the middle is this completely dysfunctional system,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez has a message for Ferrell and others like him: “Please keep trying.” He wants users to try during non-peak hours and persist even if it means logging on overnight.

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