February 10, 2016

More job searches for the unemployed

Unemployed job seekers could soon have to conduct more searches for work. A state budget provision approved by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee requires those receiving unemployment insurance benefits to search for work at least four times a week.

Republican State Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) says upping the requirement from two a week should not impact anyone who is serious about finding a new job, calling it “an honest attempt to motivate people, if they’re not motivated enough, to look for a job.”

Democrats protested the change, accusing Republicans of a “mean spirited” effort to make it harder for unemployed workers to access benefits. State Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine) says there are few open positions in areas like Racine, and carrying out fruitless searches could only discourage people who are trying to find work but need the benefits to get by.

Mason said “people get frustrated” when efforts to find a job don’t pay off. He argued the proposal falls short of getting at the real problem of making sure enough jobs are out there for people who are looking for work.

Democrats were also critical of language in the plan that could allow the work search requirement to go higher in the future, although Republicans defended the change as unlikely to impact people who should doing anything they can to find a job.

The provision was approved by the JFC on a 12-4 party line vote. The full Legislature still has to sign-off on the change when it takes up the budget bill next month.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:03)

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