Legislators, including Rep. Eskamani and Sen. Rodriguez, unveiled a UI reform bill that would double the weeks available and increase eligibility, among other measures.
Although COVID-19 put Florida's Reemployment Assistance (RA) program — commonly referred to as Unemployment Insurance, or UI — into the spotlight, the program has been broken for years. For over a decade Florida’s approach to UI has been based on reducing costs of the program, instead of providing an adequate benefit for unemployed Floridians.
The tipping point for UI in Florida came in 2011, when the program was significantly scaled back by the state Legislature, leaving workers and Florida drastically unprepared for an economic crisis. Even the renaming of the program to “Reemployment Assistance” was rooted in a misguided belief that unemployed Floridians do not deserve assistance during economically difficult times. As a result, on almost every indicator of a robust program, Florida’s UI program ranks at or near the bottom.
In fact, Florida’s recipiency rate, which looks at the proportion of jobless workers who actually receive benefits, is the worst in the entire country.
This particularly disadvantages Floridians of color, who have an unemployment rate roughly twice that of other workers. Florida’s UI program should be driven by measures that protect unemployed workers and the economy, not by measures that reduce program costs at the expense of workers who are trying to provide for their families.
Florida Policy Institute has partnered with other organizations in the state to evaluate how best to improve the state's UI system and we have identified four steps to fix the system. Download the factsheet below to share with community members and policymakers.