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Unemployment Rate Hits 9.4%

March 27th, 2009 by flanews

Florida’s unemployment for February hit a 33 year high. 874,000 people are now out of work and the state’s unemployment trust fund is shrinking fast. But as Whitney Ray tells us, the state could receive 1.1 billion dollars in federal help if the legislature acts quickly.

Shirley Baker is hunting for a job to feed two-year old Robert and her three other kids.

“Looking for a job is awful because there is no one hiring,” said Shirley.

The unemployment rate continues to soar. At 9.4 percent, 874,000 Floridians are looking for work.

“The last time we had an unemployment rate as high as 9.4 percent was in April of 1976,” said Rebecca Rust, the Chief Economist for the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

The state’s unemployment trust fund shrunk to 740 million dollars a week ago. The state is paying out 60 million dollars a week in claims, raising concerns about the fund going belly up.

There are more than a billion federal stimulus dollars for the state’s unemployed, but it would take legislative approval to get the money and there are strings attached. The House is reluctant to take all of the money.

“If we begin to look at taking that portion of the stimulus package that would actually trigger a tax increase for small businesses,” said House Speaker Larry Cretul.

House leadership may not approve of taking all the money, but they will consider securing 700 million federal dollars to extend the unemployment eligibility period.

State lawmakers fear the unemployment compensation fund will run dry this summer. The state Agency for Workforce Innovation says it will likely last at least until fall. A spokesman for the agency says if the fund runs dry unemployment benefits will still be paid because it’s required by federal law.

Posted in Business, Economy, State News, Taxes, Unemployment | 15 Comments »

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