In an economic climate when more people are out of work than at any time since World War II, a record number of workers are also relying on unemployment insurance to see them through the recession. But, many states' ability to process unemployment checks cannot keep up with the demand for benefits.
Florida, for example, has been swamped by jobless claims, which more than doubled in the past year. The state's unemployment insurance trust fund went broke in August and the state has been borrowing from the federal government ever since. Florida is also lax in determining which workers are eligible for unemployment, and many people don't bother to apply for benefits because the application process is so complicated.
NewsHour Economics Correspondent Paul Solman explores what's behind the struggle to obtain unemployment benefits in Florida.
"What should you be doing when you lose your job? Looking for another job and trying to manage, right, not figuring out the unemployment insurance system rules." - Raj Chetty, economist, Harvard University
"I went online and did everything I was supposed to. That's when they told me that my benefits were on hold until they can get confirmation from the employer, which could take three to six weeks. And I said, look, I have a family. This is a family of five. How is it that we have to wait this long for these benefits?" - Mark Mora, an unemployed Floridian
"I'm trying to reduce my anxiety and just do what I can for my family. And if I can keep a roof over their head and keep their bellies happy -- or full, you know, then I'm doing something. You know, and I'm just -- I'm hoping and praying that, you know, it's going to be better." - Dave Zabukovec, Florida resident
1. What are unemployment benefits? What purpose do they serve?
2. Why has Florida been hit especially hard by this recession? What has been happening to peoples' homes in that part of the country?
3. Where does the money for unemployment benefits come from? Who pays for them?
1. What do you think states like Florida can do to make it easier for out-of-work citizens to claim unemployment benefits?
2. If you had just lost your job and had to support a family, what would you do? Would you apply for unemployment benefits? Why/why not?
3. What are some of the major reasons why Florida is having a hard time keeping up with demand for benefits? Cite some examples from the video.