Unemployment claims in FL up 220 percent

By Althea Paul email
Posted by Rachel Leigh email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Unemployment claims in the state of Florida for last week are up by 220 percent. Even with so many people getting laid off, how many really know the way it all works with unemployment?

"I had no idea about unemployment. I've never had unemployment before," said Virginia Malkemes.

Three months ago, Malkemes was laid off. While she's been looking for a job, she's also been collecting unemployment. "It's a very easy process. Unfortunately, it's a minimal amount compared to what your monthly income and your bills are."

Malkemes gets less than half of what she used to make. She does, however, have another person in her household who is working and did get a severance deal from her previous employer.

So, for now, Malkemes is okay. But others on unemployment may not be.

Keep in mind there is a maximum you can collect per week - no matter how much you used to make. That is $275, and the minimum is $32.

The federal stimulus funding, however, will increase those benefits by $25 a week which started Sunday. Along with federal extensions, the benefits can last no longer than 59 weeks.

It's all calculated through a formula using how much you made in the last four of five quarters.

"Every little bit helps at this point," Malkemes said.

And that adds up. According to the Agency for Workforce Innovation, last week, the state paid out more than $100 million. That's a new weekly record.

And, though, Malkemes only got $275 of that, she's glad for anything since her severance runs out in just a few weeks. "At that time, I will be crunching the numbers to make ends meet until I land a job."

Remember, you are only eligible for unemployment if you lost your job through no fault of your own. You can apply online, over the phone, by fax or by mail.