The clock is ticking for anyone collecting unemployment: soon you’ll be required to search for work to keep your benefits.
And while businesses say they’re struggling to hire because no one wants to work, in reality, unemployed people say the job market isn’t as great as it seems. Many people say it’s a lose-lose situation.
Dani Henkel of Fort Myers got laid off from her marketing job right at the start of the pandemic.
“When businesses were in panic mode, looking for things to cut, one of the first logical things that they found were the people who were spending money,” Henkel said.
Like many people on unemployment, she has looked for work ever since, but without much success.
“It’s incredibly disheartening to see that 100 plus or 500 plus other people have all applied for the same position,” Henkel said.
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle said there are at least 450,000 job listings online right now.
“There’s a lot of employment opportunities, we hear a lot of employers out there looking for assistance,” Eagle said. “We want people who are on unemployment, feel safe to get back out there, know where jobs are available.”
But not everyone is willing to take just any kind of work for a lot of reasons.
“I could easily go out and find some minimum wage job right now, but that’s not going to cover my bills,” Henkel said.
“Do you think when people say, ‘No one wants to work right now they’re just living off of unemployment benefits?’”
“I think that is incredibly narrow-minded,” Henkel said.
In a normal year, unemployed people have to fill out job searches on the CONNECT website in order to collect benefits.
It’s required by Florida law, but Governor Ron Desantis temporarily waived that rule last year when the pandemic started.
Now it’s coming back after May 29.
After a long year of technical issues, some think the hundreds of thousands of people spending extra time on the website could cause it to crash.
“The website will definitely go back to being slow again,” Henkel said.
Eagle says it shouldn’t.
“They’re already required to go in every two weeks and file their claims,” Eagle said. “And even though the job search requirements have been waived, those boxes were still there to be populated. So I don’t think there should be an issue.”
Depending on where you live, unemployed people will have to start job training with CareSource or submit 3-5 job searches a week.
Henkel says it’s about more than a paycheck.
“We’ve got zero benefits, we’re going to work you to the bone and you’ll never know what your schedule is going to be. Oh, no, why does no one want to work?’” Henkel said. “Well, it’s not that no one wants to work. It’s that no one wants to work for you.”
Plus she wants to find something for the long-term, using her marketing experience and degree.
“I could go and look at starting in a different field,” Henkel said. “But now, I’m still going to be going up against the people that do have experience in that field.”
With the extra $300 in federal benefits ending in June, she feels like there’s just no winning.
“It’s honestly terrifying, that at any moment, everything could come crumbling down around me,” Henkel said.
If you’re in this position — you need to make sure you’re registered with employ Florida by next week and prepared to fill out those work searches.
I’ve laid out all the requirements and exceptions — and where to look for work in Southwest Florida — under this story on the wink news app.
Instructions for work search, including requirements and exceptions HERE.
Find job openings in Southwest Florida: careersourcesouthwestflorida.com
Return to Work Initiative
- On May 12, 2021, DEO announced Florida’s ‘Return to Work’ initiative. This initiative is focused on encouraging Floridians to return to the workforce, helping employers attract job seekers, and continuing to fuel the state’s economic growth.
- DEO encourages claimants to begin searching for work before the Work Search and Work Registration waivers expire on May 29, 2021.
- Florida has more than 460,000 jobs available across various employment websites and job listing services. One of these is Employ Florida, which is a resource for claimants to view and apply to thousands of jobs available throughout the state.
- DEO also encourages existing claimants to create an account and register at Employ Florida. Employ Florida is a great online resource for claimants to utilize when searching for a job.
- Through the ‘Return to Work’ initiative, DEO is also encouraging Floridians who are interested in learning a new career path or need assistance looking for employment, to turn to CareerSource Florida for assistance. CareerSource Florida can help job seekers explore new employment opportunities, provide workforce and job-training skills, and provide career advancement assistance. Click here to find your local CareerSource center.
- Click here for a list of options claimants can consider to meet the work search requirement for each week. To determine how many work searches you will be required to complete, click here.
- For a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the work search and work registration requirements, click here.
- DEO issued Emergency Order 21-015 to continue waiving the work search and work registration requirements through May 29, 2021, and the waiting week requirement through June 26, 2021.
- When the waiver expires, claimants must submit work searches for every week of state or federal benefits requested. Additionally, new claimants who file after the expiration of the waiver must complete the work registration through Employ Florida.
- An accurate work search record may include, but is not limited to, registering for work and reemployment services with a local CareerSource Center, completing a job application in person or online, mailing a job application or resume, making in-person visits with potential employers, interviewing with potential employers, or registering for work with employment or placement agencies to name a few.
- The state of Florida has more than 460,000 online job ads available for Floridians. Click here for more information.
- DEO is also hiring across the state. To view a list of vacant opportunities and apply to work at DEO, click here.