From 2008 to 2011, as officials struggled to handle Florida’s ballooning jobless rate, the state overpaid unemployment recipients by $486 million, according to a new analysis by the U.S. Department of Labor.
During the same time, the state’s error rate — which includes underpayments and overpayments — climbed from 4.5 percent to 8.4 percent.
The rising error rate was not driven by people scamming the system, experts say, but by the crush of new claims that accompanied a deteriorating job market. Like other states, Florida took workers responsible for verifying the accuracy of unemployment payments and moved them into claims processing.
“Agencies didn’t have the staff they needed, and they were under great stress to make payments,” said Wayne Vroman, a senior fellow with the Urban Institute. “And one of the ways that manifested itself was in payment errors.”
That happened all over the country.
New Jersey’s improper-payment rate reached almost 13 percent, or more than $1 billion, says DOL. California incorrectly distributed — or withheld — almost $1.8 billion, and Indiana’s improper-payment rate exceeded 40 percent, or $1.7 billion…
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