WESH 2 News investigates: Does the state make money with unemployment?

Updated: 3:36 p.m. EDT May 14, 2021

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JIM: THE PANDEMIC KNOCKED THE TOURISM INDUSTRY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA OUT OF THE FEET. Millions of people have been laid off across the state, and the system is designed to help them collapse and burn to death under the pressure. BECAUSE THE STATE PAID ALMOST DOLLARS 27 BILLION IN UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS TO MORE THAN 2.3 MILLION FLORIDIANS. MEREDITH: MORE THAN A YEAR LATER, THE MELTING IN THE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY DEPARTMENT THAT DELAYED THE BENEFITS IS ANOTHER nightmare for thousands of people. BUT ALSO AS JOBLESS PEOPLE FIGHT WITHOUT BENEFITS, THE DEO FIND NEW WAYS TO EARN A VERY HEALTHY PROFIT. WESH 2 INVESTIGATION REPORT GREG FOX SHOWS US HOW THE STATE IS USING PEOPLE WHO HAVE RECEIVED SMALL AID. >> I ask for assistance and when I qualify I feel like they should be handing out money. GREG: CATHY PLUCHEL FROM WINTERGARTEN PAYED THE CAREER SOURCE, THE STATE’S EMPLOYMENT OFFICE. The 62-year-old unemployed dental assistant is trying to reinvent himself and looking for money to attend training to become a certified medical assistant. GREG: FLORIDA BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY DEPARTMENT CERTAINLY HAS MORE MONEY TO HELP PEOPLE LIKE KATHY THROUGH THE STATE’S WAY2GO DEBT CARD. It is made available to the unemployed who refuse to use direct deposit at a bank for benefits. IT IS PART OF THE GOPROGRAM THAT CONDUENT RUNS. Under a contract signed by WESH 2 Investigations, the DEO has a revenue-sharing arrangement with CONDUENT. IT RECEIVES 19% OF REVENUE FROM DEALER CHANGE FEES. In short, every time a WAY2GO debit card is stolen from a store, FLORIDA makes more money. THE RESULT? FLORIDAS 19% REDUCTION IN REVENUE DISTRIBUTION SALES, WHICH WAS $ 345,000 IN FIVE YEARS BY APRIL 2020. SINCE THEN? It rose to $ 1.6 million in just 10 months. THE OBJECTIVES OF THE CONTRACT ARE TO GENERATE A PROGRAM THAT WILL OPERATE INCOME, REDUCE PROGRAM FRAUD, AND ABUSE AND IMPROVE CUSTOMER SERVICE. >> It’s very miserable. GREG: REESE CRAYTON, an assistant to the nurse, has been unemployed since November and is still waiting for her jobless benefits to take care of her and her nine year old son, VINCENT. SHE THINKS THE STATE OFFER TO EARN MORE WHEN PEOPLE EARN LESS IS WRONG. >> I find that very annoying. Knowing in my head that the state benefits from me and I received no benefit from them. >> WHAT’S REALLY KILLING ME ABOUT THIS SCENARIO IS THAT THE UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEM HAS CRIMINALLY BROKEN WHILE THE STATE MAKES MONEY FROM IT’S PART. GREG: DEMOCRATIC LOCAL LAWYER ANNA ESKAMANI WANT TO KNOW IF THIS ADDITIONAL MONEY is actually being used to contain fraud and identity theft, which can result in people being locked out of their accounts for legitimate reasons. AND TAKE INTO ACCOUNT TO INCREASE THE BENEFITS THAT AT LEAST PEOPLE OF THE STATE BENEFIT FROM THE UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEM IF THEY JUST SCRAP THE BOT NOW

WESH 2 News investigates: Does the state make money with unemployment?

Updated: 3:36 p.m. EDT May 14, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the Florida tourism industry. Millions of people have been laid off across the state, and the system should help them collapse and burn under the pressure. Since then, the state has paid nearly $ 27 billion in unemployment benefits for more than 2.3 million Floridians. More than a year later, the collapse of the Department of Economic Opportunities that delayed services is still a nightmare for thousands of people. But even when the unemployed struggle with no benefits, the DEO notes WESH 2 News has found new ways to make a very healthy profit. Greg Fox from WESH 2 shows us how the state benefits from people who have received little help.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the Florida tourism industry.

Millions of people have been laid off across the state, and the system should help them crash and burn under the pressure.

Since then, the state has paid nearly $ 27 billion in unemployment benefits to more than 2.3 million Floridians.

More than a year later, the collapse of the Department of Economic Opportunities that delayed services is still a nightmare for thousands of people.

But even if the unemployed are struggling without social benefits, the DEO is finding new ways to make a very healthy profit, WESH 2 News found out.

Greg Fox from WESH 2 shows us how the state benefits from people who have received little help.