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Collecting unemployment benefits versus working

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Posted at 4:41 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 17:33:42-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A booming economy has left South Florida with tens of thousands of job openings just a year after the corona virus pandemic reached its peak.

“You’d think people would want to get out and want to get to work,” said Sherie Duttenhofer, the owner of Pridestaff, a company that finds workers for open positions at local businesses. “Hospitality is one, but there are so many other fields that are struggling to find talent. Everything from non-profits seeking a comptroller to data entry clerks.”

Unemployed Floridians can make a maximum of $575 per week from state and federal programs.

Broken down to hourly wages, this is what unemployment pays compared to other jobs.


  • Unemployment: $14.37
  • Restaurant Server: $12.32
  • Hotel Front Desk Clerks: $12.44
  • Office Workers: $13.34

For the jobless, there’s often more money to stay at home.

“They don’t have to buy gas, there’s no wear and tear on their cars,” said Duttenhofer. “They they’re not eating out at lunch. There’s so many things they’re saving money on. No day care.”

Businesses have factors other than unemployment as they try to get workers back on the job. Some of those they laid off found other jobs and careers during the pandemic. Others left the area.

Tom Veenstra of the job placement agency CareerSource Palm Beach County, says some businesses are offering signing bonuses and pay higher than pre-pandemic levels. He urges those on the sidelines to return to work.

“People who are getting into the job market now are getting the best jobs at the best possible compensation and benefits,” said Veenstra, who adds that benefits unemployed workers are collecting are likely to expire as the economy improves.