MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Residents of Wisconsin receiving unemployment insurance must now meet job search conditions that have been temporarily suspended due to the economic effects of the pandemic.
A GOP-controlled legislative committee voted on May 19 to reinstate the requirements. The goal is to help a persistent labor shortage in the state recovering from the pandemic.
“I would say that is why it is so imperative that people look for work,” said Senator Steve Nass (R – Whitewater) on May 19 of the reinstatement of the requirements.
Governor Tony Evers reacted to the committee’s decision.
“I’m not surprised,” Evers told reporters. “But at the end of the day, all this fighting back against the poor and the people battling the pandemic, I find it hard to understand.”
As of May 23, people wishing to apply for unemployment insurance in Wisconsin must make four job search contacts each week in order to receive benefits.
Acceptable forms of job search, according to the Department of Workforce Development, include things like submitting resumes and applications, meeting with a career counselor, and interviewing for a job.
The Department of Workforce Development has a comprehensive FAQ section regarding job search requirements which can be found here: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/ui/worksearch/
Earlier this year, DWD launched a new interactive map to help connect job seekers to essential services. This site can be found here: http://www.wisconsinjobcenter.org/directory/default.htm
The requirements are a challenge for some.
Luz Sosa is an economist at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Before the pandemic, she worked full time, but the effects of COVID-19 on college forced her to leave part time. Since then, she has been on partial unemployment. Along with the demands of job search, she finds limited options to meet them, as higher education employment has slowed down and has not yet fully recovered. Sosa thinks this is a challenge for many others.
“What impact would that have on other people in other sectors where there are no jobs in their sector?” Sosa told CBS 58 in an interview. “Are we all supposed to change jobs, careers, or change our lives just because of these job searches?”
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate stands at 3.9%, which is lower than the national average of 6.1%, according to DWD. Sosa believes the barriers that prevent people from re-entering the workforce cannot be addressed by reinstating job search requirements or removing perks like the extra $ 300 in federal unemployment benefits, something he says State Republicans want to cut back but that is likely to face the Evers government’s veto.
Sosa said the current labor shortage may have more to do with challenges of low wages, barriers to childcare and structural unemployment among skilled jobs – an issue that existed before the pandemic. .
“Instead of just thinking about these short-term goals, we really need to tackle the long-term structural dysfunction that we have in the state,” Sosa said.