Floridians ask U.S. Senate to extend federal unemployment coronavirus supplement

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The unemployment crisis continues in the United States: more than 1.3 million laid-off workers sought unemployment benefits last week amid the resurgent viral outbreak.

The U.S. Department of Labor also reported a surge in first-time filings for unemployment benefits in Florida. In the week ending Saturday, more than 129,000 Floridians filed for unemployment benefits.

But a federal supplement to Florida’s anemic unemployment compensation expires this month.

South Florida Democratic Congress member Donna Shalala is calling on Senate Republicans to extend the federal unemployment benefit.

Listen:

Congress member Shalala was part of a conference call Thursday morning organized by a coalition of labor unions and social justice organizations.

After the call, they drove in a caravan to Senator Rick Scott’s office to deliver the message that he and his fellow Senate Republicans should extend the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit that expires this month.

Coconut Grove resident Sandra Speier is a single mother and lost her job in mid-March.

She didn’t get her first partial unemployment compensation until seven weeks later. She said that “covered food, nothing else.” It took her twelve weeks to finally get the full benefit she was eligible for.

“The $600 isn’t making people want to stay home. In most cases, it’s saving their lives so they don’t end up homeless and hungry. It’s helping us get by and helping us help the economy until things can get back to normal.

“The average state unemployment compensation in Florida is $125 per week. Many, including me, did not get the maximum even though we should have qualified for the maximum.”

“Tell me how $125 a week unemployment will feed a family of two or four? It won’t.”

Listen:

Senate Republicans are poised to release their next COVID-19 aid bill as early as next week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is preparing the GOP’s $1 trillion package that’s a counteroffer to the $3 trillion proposal that House Democrats approved in May. The House version extends federal unemployment benefits.

The unofficial COVID-19 dashboard run by Rebekah Jones, the data scientist who was fired by the state, says that Florida added 13,965 new coronavirus cases Thursday with an additional 156 deaths.

information from the Associated Press was used in this report

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