March 15, 2021 8:00am

Broward Leaders Overwhelmingly Agree Florida Unemployment Benefits Should Be Overhauled

Partisan Politics May Bog the Process Down

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By Sallie James
Fort Lauderdale, FL Correspondent
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Broward community leaders who responded to the seventh Power Poll survey agree that Florida's troubled unemployment system should be completely overhauled, but worry that the process will be mired in partisan politics. 

Currently, Florida's weekly unemployment benefits are among the lowest in the nation at $275 a week. That averages out to $6.88 an hour for full-time work — far below Florida’s current minimum wage of $8.56 an hour. Unemployment benefits also run for only 12 weeks when the unemployment rate is below 5.5 percent,  something most agreed should be increased. Survey respondents also agreed Florida's troubled unemployment benefits system CONNECT should be replaced.

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Our first survey question asked if Florida should raise the weekly unemployment benefit from $275 a week to $375 a week. The sentiment was an overwhelming "yes" with 57.1 percent of those surveyed strongly agreeing; 14.3 percent agreeing; 14.3 percent disagreeing; and 14.3 percent strongly disagreeing.

Our second survey question focused on the length of time that unemployment benefits are paid. We asked survey takers if the number of weeks benefits are paid should be raised from the current rate of 12 weeks, if the unemployment rate is below 5.5 percent. The benefit period increases to a maximum of 23 weeks if the unemployment rate reaches 10.5 percent. The majority of the respondents agreed the time period should be increased. Of the respondents, 28.6 percent strongly agreed; 14.3 percent agreed; 28.6 percent were neutral; 14.3 percent disagreed; and 14.3 percent strongly disagreed.

Our third survey question focused on the unemployment system itself. We asked our participants if Florida should replaced the troubled unemployment benefits system CONNECT with something more functional.  More than 80 percent of the respondents agreed the system should be replaced. Specifically, 57.1 percent strongly agreed; 28.6 percent agreed; and 14.3 percent were neutral.

Our fourth survey question asked if respondents thought the issue of overhauling Florida's unemployment benefits and overall system would be mired in partisan politics. The answer was a resounding "yes." Of those who answered, 71.4 percent strongly agreed; 14.3 percent agreed and 14.3 percent were neutral.

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