Florida unemployment site to shut down early Wednesday as DEO touts updated payout numbers

Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity says that in addition to the nightly maintenance that takes the state's unemployment website offline at 8 p.m., the site will shut down early on Wednesday, May 13. 

DEO says the shutdown will begin 5:50 p.m. for system enhancements. According to the department, "the schedule does not affect individuals that wish to file a new claim."

The site, which cost $77 million to create under Governor Rick Scott's administration, has been beset by error messages, technical glitches and a massive backlog of claims since the COVID-19 pandemic led to business closures and mass layoffs in mid-March. DEO reported on May 12 that the department had paid 665,949 claimants a total of over $1.7 billion, more specifically $1,722,449,560. 

"Of the 665,949 claimants paid, 23,031 individuals received Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance," the department said in an announcement. "As of May 11, nearly $11.5 million has been paid to claimants for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance."

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program provides benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors and gig workers who are unable to work. 

Applicants hoping to use PUA funds must have first been rejected for unemployment benefits. The CARES Act also includes an additional $600 weekly benefit for individuals who are eligible for state Reemployment Assistance benefits.

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