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Florida’s unemployment site is down until Monday. Workers protest online.

The state says people do not need to log back in to claim their benefits every two weeks.
CONNECT, the state's unemployment website, is down for maintenance through the weekend.
CONNECT, the state's unemployment website, is down for maintenance through the weekend. [ Florida Department of Economic Opportunity ]
Published Apr. 24, 2020
Updated Apr. 24, 2020

TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s broken unemployment website will be down until Monday, the latest setback for a system that has been the slowest in the nation to process unemployment claims.

The site says it’s down until Monday at 8 a.m. so the state can process more filings. In the meantime, Floridians have been taking to Twitter to protest the system and share their stories using the hashtag #FLDEOVirtualProtest.

“Filed 3/20, still pending,” tweeted Lisa Gecelosky, a licensed massage therapist. “Money is running low due to personal and business expenses. I need this help.”

More than 1.8 million unemployment claims have been filed since March 15, when the state saw a record surge in claims. Some of those are duplicate or triplicate claims from people who have tried to file multiple times through the state’s system.

Hardly anyone has been approved for their unemployment claims, despite Gov. Ron DeSantis waiving many of the unemployment system requirements. As of Thursday, just 153,788 Floridians have have started receiving benefits.

And the state is not keeping up with demand. In the last week, more than 318,000 additional claims have been filed, while the state has processed just 57,000. At the rate the state is processing claims, they won’t finish until 2021.

DeSantis is already talking about reopening the state, and people could see their employers open up as soon as next month, when the governor’s stay-at-home order expires.

Floridians do not have to log back in every two weeks to claim their benefits, for example. But many other Floridians who qualify for the federal $600 benefits have been told by the Department of Economic Opportunity to check back in to see if they’ve been approved.

A department spokeswoman said those people should check on their status on Monday.

“When the system is back up on Monday and we have processed more payments, these individuals should log-in to CONNECT or call the call center for additional information about their accounts,” spokeswoman Tiffany Vause said. “We know that not being able to access the system may cause uncertainty, but these updates are designed to expedite the process for payment.”

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