Seven states (not Florida) approved for $300 federal unemployment supplement for the jobless

Jobless workers demonstrate in Miami Springs in support of continued federal unemployment benefits in the pandemic economy. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has announced that seven states so far have been approved to receive federal Unemployment Insurance supplement funds of $300 weekly under a presidential executive order — but Florida is not one of them.

It’s not clear whether Florida authorities intend to apply for the funds, which would draw down $300 of federal funds to add to state-based funds for unemployment benefits. Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed interest last Tuesday but also caution, saying his legal team is assessing potential legal hazards.

“There’s only so much you can do through executive action [rather than Congressional action],” DeSantis said then. “I want to make sure there’s no legal risk for us. If someone was to challenge this, then we’d be left on the hook.”

In Florida, the net state unemployment benefit, based on the number of weeks as well as the amount of $275 weekly, is the lowest in the nation, according to U.S. Department of Labor data analyzed by States Newsroom.

The states approved for federal unemployment supplements of $300 weekly are Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico and Utah.

According to FEMA, states requesting the supplemental funding must demonstrate they are contributing at least $100 of their own, and they may use CARES Act dollars allocated to them. But DeSantis has said he does not support using CARES dollars allocated to Florida because they are already obligated.

The federal supplement, paid from $44 billion in disaster relief funds, would last only for five or six weeks if all states participate, according to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity says more than 1.8 million jobless Floridians have been paid Unemployment Insurance benefits. At that level of joblessness, a state supplement of $100 weekly per person would cost the state $180 million per week.

Since March 27, jobless Floridians were eligible for up to $275 weekly in state benefits and $600 in federal benefits.

The federal benefits expired at the end of July.

The U.S. House of Representatives, in the HEROES Act passed in May, voted to extend the $600 benefit through the end of the year. The Senate proposed cutting it to $200 weekly. President Trump, by executive order, temporarily set it at $300, or $400 with a state match. However, the seven states so far, are getting $300 weekly.

The Phoenix contacted the governor’s office and Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity to find out if the state had applied. But thus far, both offices have not responded.

In an email to the Phoenix from FEMA, the agency declined to say whether Florida or other states may have applied. FEMA said to ask Florida officials. States have until Sept. 10 to make an application.