States Reimpose Work Search Requirements

G. Dautovic Image
ByG. Dautovic
May 25, 2021

In more than half of all states, recipients of unemployment benefits will now have to actively search for work if they wish to continue receiving the payments. This search obligation was lifted at the height of the pandemic but is slowly being revived in many states as the vaccinations increase and the economy gets back on track. 

President Joe Biden is urging all states to follow in the footsteps of Arkansas, Louisiana, Vermont, and many others by ordering the Labor Department to “work with the remaining states.” It remains to be seen if this is the right move for the American economy, with employers likely to welcome the decision, while workers still have concerns about returning to the job market.

Many of the employers who struggled to cope with the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, especially small businesses that applied for loans to keep themselves afloat, are now unable to find the right employees. That’s because many workers are waiting to return to their pre-pandemic jobs or hoping for better-paying or remote opportunities. Others have health concerns and face child care challenges. 

Additionally, workers are voicing their concerns about applying for less-satisfying or lower-paying jobs to meet the new requirements. Meanwhile, worker advocacy groups are pointing to another frustrating obstacle – a lack of guidance.

For some, it may feel like this decision is premature since it doesn’t take into account individuals who have underlying medical conditions and could be at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19. 

The debate over the issue is heating up in Washington as Republican lawmakers blast the Biden administration’s economic policies for supposedly standing in the way of economic recovery. Many Republican governors plan to cancel the weekly $300 unemployment payments, arguing that the benefits disincentivize workers to get back to their jobs. 

Job openings, both on job posting sites and offline, rose to 8.1 million in March. But fewer people are working when compared to the pre-pandemic period – approximately 8 million less. This gap is likely due to a mismatch between the skills that are needed on the market and the job seekers’ actual skills.

About author

I have always thought of myself as a writer, but I began my career as a data operator with a large fintech firm. This position proved invaluable for learning how banks and other financial institutions operate. Daily correspondence with banking experts gave me insight into the systems and policies that power the economy. When I got the chance to translate my experience into words, I gladly joined the smart, enthusiastic Fortunly team.

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