GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday Floridians who are getting a taxpayer-funded unemployment check will soon be required once more to prove they’ve been looking for work, reinstating a previous requirement that was put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As businesses were forced to shut their doors and joblessness in the Sunshine State rocketed skyward to almost 14 percent beginning more than a year ago, the requirement made little sense.
But in the months since — DeSantis was one of the first governors to begin reopening his state late last summer — businesses have reopened and jobs have come roaring back, so much so that the Republican governor noted earlier this week that there are now more jobs than workers in some places, leading businesses to close again, at least on some days.
And while that’s “a good problem to have,” DeSantis indicated some of the difficulty employers are facing in hiring enough workers stems from generous COVID-19 ‘relief’ benefits that make it more profitable for people to stay at home.
“Normally when you’re getting unemployment, the whole idea is that’s temporary, and you need to be looking for work to be able to get off unemployment,” DeSantis said at a news conference. “It was a disaster [at the beginning of the pandemic], so we suspended those job search requirements. I think it’s pretty clear now, we have an abundance of job openings.
“You have a surplus of jobs, and particularly in restaurant, lodging, hospitality, that people want to hire. I mean, you see these signs all over the place,” DeSantis added, referencing Florida’s relatively low unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, well below the national average of about 6 percent.
“Look, that’s a good problem to have. But we also just want to make sure, look, if you’re really unemployed, can’t get a job, that’s one thing, but making sure that you’re doing your due diligence to look for work and making sure those incentives align better,” he added.
“So we’re doing it right. We obviously want to make sure those folks are able to succeed in terms of getting the people they need, but just think of where we could be. I mean, this is a good problem to have compared to seeing people — in some parts of the country, these businesses are dead. They’re never coming back,” he noted further.
“This is the heavy hand of government crushing family businesses, ruining jobs and destroying millions of people’s lives,” he added.
DeSantis’ order reinstating the state’s work-search requirement for jobless beneficiaries will take effect on May 29, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Jobless beneficiaries will be required to apply for at least five jobs per week to continue receiving a check.
At the same press conference, DeSantis also spoke of a lawsuit his administration has filed against the Biden administration for continuing to keep cruise ships at anchor, ostensibly due to the pandemic.
“…[W]e also want our cruise lines to open. The CDC has mothballed this for over a year. They said that it was going to be two weeks last March. You know the cruise industry, they wanted to do the right thing. So they’re like, ‘All right, it’s not going to be easy for us, but we’re going to do it,'” he said.
“Now here we are over a year later and there’s no end in sight. Now they say you can only cruise if you have 98 percent people show proof of vaccination, but that’s ridiculous. They’re cruising in other parts of the world where they don’t even have availability of vaccines yet, where they have much higher Covid than in the United States,” said the governor.
DeSantis said Americans are simply flying to the Caribbean and getting on the same cruise ships, spending money in the Bahamas and elsewhere instead of in Florida, before going back home “to Michigan, or Pennsylvania, or wherever, having basically just ignored Florida.”
“Do you want one unelected bureaucracy to be able to have the power to indefinitely shut down a major industry in this country? They do not have that authority to do it. That’s why we’re suing them,” he added.
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