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250,000 Floridians to benefit from extension of unemployment benefits

A bill headed for President Barack Obama's signature today would expand a popular tax credit for home buyers — and extend unemployment benefits. Nearly 2 million people out of work almost a year or more qualify. The measure, approved 403-12 by the House on Thursday, extends benefits 14 weeks for those who have exhausted their federal aid or will do so by the end of the year. Those living in states such as Florida where the unemployment rate is at 8.5 percent or above get up to 20 weeks. One twist: Unlike past extensions, the benefit is not retroactive. Here's a closer look by the numbers. — Jeff Harrington, Times staff writer

250,000

Number of Floridians expected to be helped by the extension because their unemployment benefits have expired or are expiring by year-end. As of Oct. 31, 61,355 people had exhausted all state and federally extended benefits, according to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation.

$239

Average weekly benefit paid out through Florida's unemployment insurance program, among the lowest in the country. Maximum payout is $275 per week.

11 percent

Florida's current unemployment rate, placing it among 26 hard-hit states that qualify for the maximum 20 weeks of additional benefits.

26 weeks

Maximum length of time that jobless Floridians could receive unemployment benefits before the recession.

99 weeks

After a series of federal extensions, the maximum time unemployed Floridians can now tap unemployment benefits — a record. Congress may have to amend eligibility dates for earlier tiers of benefits for anyone to receive the full 99 weeks.

$597.5 million

Amount Florida has borrowed from the U.S. Department of Labor as of Nov. 3 to shore up the state's depleted trust fund so it can continue paying regular state benefits. The federally extended benefits are paid out of separate federal funding.

Benefits rules to come by mail

The Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation will notify all potentially eligible candidates for extended benefits by mail. If they are automatically eligible, they will not need to apply. If they do need to apply, the agency said it will send instructions in the mail.

AWI said those who have exhausted all benefits and think they may be eligible should gather information to file an application (such as names and addresses of employers), but wait until the legislation becomes law before filing.

For more information, go to www.floridajobs.org/unemployment/hottopics.html.

250,000 Floridians to benefit from extension of unemployment benefits 11/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 5, 2009 9:15pm]
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