In less than one month, out-of-work California residents receiving unemployment benefits will have to show they are actively looking for work in order to continue receiving financial assistance, a requirement waived by the state last year as the coronavirus pandemic led to massive layoffs and furloughs.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Claimants for unemployment benefits must start job hunting July 11 so they can attest that they are doing so when certifying their eligibility a week later with the state Employment Development Department, the agency announced Thursday.”
“California offers many resources to help people to find safe and suitable careers and training opportunities that keep the economy moving,” said Rita Saenz, director of the EDD. “We want to make sure those on unemployment have enough lead time to start searching for work so they can remain eligible for benefits as they seek their next career opportunity.”
Under normal conditions, the maximum entitlement from unemployment benefits in California is $450 per week. Federal lawmakers added an extra $300 supplement when the COVID-19-related recession emerged, an increase that is not set to expire until September. Analysts have said that the generous boost has been a factor in discouraging some people from proactively seeking employment, resulting in worker shortages as states reopen their economies.
Starting July 11, 2021, Californians receiving unemployment benefits should begin looking for work to maintain their eligibility.
EDD will send claimants notifications informing them of the reinstatement of this requirement and what it means for them.
— EDD (@CA_EDD) June 18, 2021
More details from the L.A. Times:
Faced with an unprecedented 22.5 million unemployment claims, the state in March 2020 temporarily waived the work search requirement to expedite payment of benefits and to recognize that there were potential health risks involved in returning to jobs while the pandemic was raging.
Requiring people to search for work was also at odds with the state’s stay-at-home order, which discouraged people from going to workplaces for nonessential jobs.
Though the state lifted many COVID-related restrictions this week on physical distancing and capacity at businesses, some state officials expressed concern Thursday that uncertainty remains over the economy as stores, restaurants and other employers report difficulty in attempting to fill job vacancies.
California is the most populous state in the nation, with more than 40 million residents. Since the pandemic started, the state has processed a record 22.5 million unemployment claims. The Times reports that EDD has paid out more than $150 billion in benefits. In January, state officials confirmed more than $11 billion in California unemployment funds had been paid out to criminals scamming the system. An additional $20 billion was identified as potentially fraudulent.
“There is no sugar coating the reality,” said Julie Su, secretary for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. “California did not have sufficient security measures in place to prevent this level of fraud.”
According to the Times, “California’s borrowing to pay unemployment benefits will balloon to $26.7 billion by the end of next year as state funds prove inadequate to cover the costs of unprecedented joblessness caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report warns.” The outlet reported, “Business leaders said Friday that as borrowing from the federal unemployment trust fund is paid back by higher payroll taxes, state officials must tap more of a projected budget surplus to lessen the financial hit on employers already struggling to recover from the economic shutdown of the last year.”
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