State's unemployment trust fund soon to be back in the black

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Running a deficit since mid-2009, Florida’s unemployment compensation trust fund will again be in the black by May after repaying nearly $550 million over the next several months, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.

In addition, state legislation passed earlier this year will reduce employers’ minimum premium payments from $120 a month per worker to $80, a move that is expected to save businesses $500 million over the next two years.

“This is great news for Florida’s job creators,” said Edie Ousley, spokeswoman for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which supported HB 7027. “Florida is on the right path. Our state leaders are putting the state on strong footing.”

Unemployment payouts peaked in 2009 when more than $3 billion in benefits were paid to workers displaced following the housing-market and credit crash that began a few years earlier. Florida began spending more than it was collecting in 2007 as the housing crisis grew.

The unemployment compensation fund, financed by taxes employers pay on their workforce, had a $1.3 billion surplus as recently as December 2008. But as Florida’s jobless rate skyrocketed, the fund fell into deficit for the first time in state history.

To make ends meet, Florida began borrowing money from the federal government, which has been charging interest ever since.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.