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Naples group putting face to state’s unemployment problems with rally

Roughly 5% of unemployment claims submitted after March 15 have been paid out. That’s based on numbers the DEO released Thursday night.

Many of you say you’re in limbo, waiting for payments and need more to be done.

Some in Naples have gotten together to put a face to the state’s unemployment problems.

Thursday, the governor made an executive order waiving another requirement, o longer making people re-certify their claims every two weeks. He hopes that will take the pressure off an already burdened website.

Even with the new changes, people just want to know when they’ll see their benefits.

To Jessica Melton, the governor’s executive order is great news.

“That’s what’s inundating all of their phone lines, that’s why everybody’s logging in, trying to log back on every day to check the status. Because there was no clear direction,” she said.

Bonnie Armstrong says it’s a step in the right direction. “I feel like we are putting pressure on them to do something.”

Still, the frustrations continue. The system went down again Friday morning to “process payments” showing this message about the new order: “Claimants do not need to re-certify your weeks biweekly to receive your benefits.”

“Why would you want to drive more people to the website that is getting so much traffic, it doesn’t make sense, so I waived that,” DeSantis said.

In the last month, the governor has also waived the mandatory waiting week and job search requirements. On Friday, DeSantis says improving the system is the state’s number-one economic priority.

Where the rubber meets the road is, I want people to be able to get the assistance. And I’ve told the agency they need to get this out the door as fast as possible.

Melton says she got her payment, minus the first week which should come as a check in the mail. Her husband’s is still pending.

“It was so stressful. I think I have more gray, more wrinkles now than I did 30 days ago,” she said,

Armstrong’s status is also pending and as she and her coworkers’ savings run dry, she just wants the system to work.

“We were unemployed through no fault of our own, and we just, we need to get paid,” she said.

Armstrong is one of the organizers of a rally in Naples on Friday. She told us she’s glad to see the governor is making changes, but until people actually see physical improvements with the website and the phone lines, and get their benefits, they’re going to keep pushing.

As we get answers to your questions from FDEO, we’re posting them on our FAQ: Unemployment Resources page.

UNEMPLOYMENT RESOURCES

Reporter:Sara Girard
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