WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It's been two years since Florida experienced an unemployment crisis when the pandemic impacted thousands of jobs. Much of it was made worse by a troubled state system to get benefits.
So, is it any better today?
Two years ago WPTV heard from many people who were locked out of the state's Department of Economic Opportunity website and booted off, preventing them from obtaining unemployment benefits.
These issues were compounded by poor customer service.
However, the good news now is that workers have a much better chance of filing a claim, mainly because there are not as many people out of work crashing the system.
The bad news is that the state is still using the same old system.
"It's fair to say that we're not getting as many website crash issues, but there needs to be a human that processes your application to have it move through the website, and so that human power isn't there," state Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, said. "People are still facing holds on their accounts that are linked to issues we experienced in 2020."
Along with the fact that many Florida residents still have to struggle with the lowest benefits in the country at $275 a week for 12 weeks.
So what is happening to improve the system down the road?
Lawmakers approved wide changes to remedy performance and usability in 2021, including going to a cloud-based system. There are about 20 projects underway, according to the DEO website.
However, it's going to take a couple of years to secure the contracts and build the infrastructure.
Eskamani said she's heard it could be 2024 before all of the improvements are implemented.