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Navigating The Unemployment Maze: One Jacksonville Man's Story

Alex Praksti , a server at Cowford Chophouse, is among those who have filed for unemployment.

Another 3.8 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total to more than 30 million applying for unemployment in the six weeks since COVID-19 started hammering the economy.

This week, a huge number of Floridians needing financial assistance were dismayed to have their claims denied.  WJCT News checked back with one of them.

When we last spoke with Jacksonville resident Alex Praksti, who lost his job at Cowford Chophouse, he told us about technical troubles applying for state unemployment assistance.

Related: Report Finds Jacksonville Unemployment Has Jumped 39% Since January

After finally getting into the state’s Connect system, he was told his claim was eligible and would be processed.

But Monday, Praksti was among 40% of applicants considered “ineligible” to collect benefits.

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

“I’m hoping there was a system error, or something but I know that there’s a lot of very angry people right now about this,” he said.

Praksti is in a Facebook group with others struggling with the same filing problems. “Just major glitches on the site preventing them from reapplying or applying for the federal aid,” he added.

Even with restaurants allowed to open dining rooms at 25% capacity, Praksti is not holding out hope of returning as a server assistant. “So really, until restaurants fully open back up, that job ain’t gonna be there unfortunately.” 

Praksti is getting by on family loans and looking at other assistance or extensions on his mounting bills. 

Michelle Corum can be reached at, 904-358-6308 or on Twitter at @MCorumonME.

Michelle Corum joined WJCT as "Morning Edition" host in 2012 and has worked in public broadcasting as an announcer and reporter for public radio stations in Lawrence, Kansas, and Interlochen, Michigan. She also manages WJCT's Radio Reading Service for sight-impaired listeners.