Mark Harmsworth of the Washington Policy Center discusses the reinstatement of the requirement for claimants of unemployment benefits to actively look for a job to receive benefits
This opinion piece was produced and first published by the Washington Policy Center. It is published here with the permission of and full attribution to the Washington Policy Center.
Washington Policy Center
Last year, the requirement for workers laid off during the pandemic to be looking for a job to continue to receive unemployment benefits was waived as part of the COVID-19 emergency orders. Now that the worst of the pandemic has passed, the Employment Security Department (ESD) has reinstated the requirement for claimants to actively look for a job to receive benefits.
The job search requirement re-started on July 4 and the first report of job search activity to ESD is due on July 11.
ESD states on their website, “With the economy recovering, the job search requirement is going back into effect. This means you will be required to look for work and document at least three approved job search activities each week in order to remain eligible for unemployment benefits.”
In several sectors of the job market, particularly in retail and hospitality, employers are struggling to re-hire workers as many workers are being paid more while on unemployment and have opted to stay home. The pandemic unemployment benefits are partially state funded, partially federally funded and will eventually come to an end. Many states have already ended the state portion of the pandemic unemployment benefit and the federal government has indicated it is looking to end the federal additional benefits payments by the end of September.
Those workers holding out until the last benefit check arrives before earnestly looking for employment, may find themselves in a situation where the job market has recovered sufficiently making it difficult to find a suitable position.
While it may be financially more advantageous for some unemployed workers to stay on unemployment benefits for as long as possible, time is quickly running out. While Washington state has not indicated it will be ending benefits early, if it does decide to stop payments, there will be a rush to find employment.
Unemployed workers should be aggressively trying to find a new position now to avoid the rush once benefits end.
The good news is employers are hiring and there are a lot of jobs available.
As they say, the early bird gets the worm.
Mark Harmsworth is the director of the Small Business Center at the Washington Policy Center.