Pandemic exemption on job search requirement for unemployed may face early termination


Applying for unemployment benefits (photo by Getty Images)

Unemployment Insurance (UI) applicants may soon have to start reporting their weekly job search efforts again.

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) normally requires applicants for unemployment insurance to do four “work search actions»One week to be entitled to benefits.

The weekly job search requirement has been suspended in Wisconsin under an emergency rule instituted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, May 7, Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), Co-Chair of the Legislative Assembly Joint Committee for the Revision of Business Rules (JCRAR), announced plans to file a motion to end the waiver. Nass accused Governor Tony Evers of “ignoring the critical shortage of workers affecting nearly every sector of the state’s economy.”

In a statement, Nass said he would convene the committee in time to pass his motion to end the rule by the end of May, rather than July, when the emergency rule expires. “In the current situation, almost everyone on UI should be able to find a job within a short period of time if they need to look for a new job,” Nass said.

Some Republican business owners and lawmakers have claimed that UI benefits, especially when additional federal benefits of $ 300 per week are included, have kept people at home who would otherwise be available for work.

But one series of pre-pandemic research papers – when the federal supplement was $ 600 per week – found no evidence for these claims.

Unemployment continues to be concentrated among low-paid workers, mainly in the hospitality sector. They have been hit hardest by job losses in the pandemic, as restaurants, bars and related establishments have closed or reduced capacity, partly due to public health closures and partly due to the mistrust of consumers for fear of exposure to the coronavirus.

Even though vaccines are now available and the number of people vaccinated has increased, vaccination rates are still below what would be needed to stop the spread of the virus, according to public health officials.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at a press conference on April 28 noted that salaries did not increase much, as one would expect in a tight labor market.

In one comment Posted May 4, Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, argued that “when restaurateurs cannot find workers to fill positions at wages that are not significantly higher than ‘they weren’t before the pandemic – even though the jobs are inherently more stressful and potentially dangerous because workers now have to deal with anti-masks and ongoing health issues – it’s not a shortage labor force is how the market works. Wages for harder and riskier work should be higher. “


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