Unemployment claims in Florida dropped more than half last week, labor officials say

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Initial jobless claims in Florida dropped by more than half last week compared to the prior week, according to figures released Thursday, as unemployed Floridians continued facing problems signing up and receiving benefits because of difficulties with a computer system that was offline for parts of last week.

Florida had 173,191 initial claims for unemployment benefits last week, compared to 433,103 initial claims in the week prior, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Nationwide, nearly 3.2 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the business shutdowns caused by the new coronavirus outbreak deepened the worst U.S. economic catastrophe in decades.

Unemployed Floridians have complained widely about the state’s online system for registering claims making the process of filing for benefits extremely difficult. Others have criticized the system delays in getting a payment once their applications are accepted. The computer system for accepting applications often goes offline at night and on weekends.

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More than 1.8 million Floridians have submitted unemployment claims since mid-March, when businesses started shutting down around the state because of the spread of the virus. Because of the difficulties in signing up for the benefits, many have submitted two or three claims, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The agency says more than 1.1 million claims have been confirmed, and of that number almost 481,500 claimants, or 43%, have been paid more than $1 billion, as of Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.