BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Beginning Sunday, Aug. 9, jobless Louisianans will have to prove they’re actively seeking employment in order to receive unemployment benefits.
In April, Governor John Bel Edwards suspended these work search rules, which require unemployed people to make contact about a job with at least three businesses each week. The state will not dish out the cash unless it receives paperwork proving correspondence between the businesses and the unemployed person.
“The state benefit is [up to] $247 each week, and people are not going to be able to survive on that,” Gov. Edwards said Thursday, Aug. 6. “It is time to get those who can back into a job and find work, and there are several thousand jobs available in Louisiana.”
Edwards says he made the move, in part, because the state is running out of its unemployment savings. If Congress does not replenish the dwindling pot of money or make federal loans forgivable, a state law will trigger an automatic tax increase on businesses.
The savings account was valued at more than $1.1 billion before the coronavirus pandemic, but is now worth less than $300 million.
The rule will be reinstated a week after the federal government’s additional $600 unemployment benefit expired. Some businesses have struggled to keep workers on the payroll because those employees could make more at home on unemployment than at their jobs.
“We’ve been having to get in there ourselves,” Empire Wingz owner, Vic Smith, said. “Even if we do get a new worker, they don’t last long. It’s two or three weeks, and then off to go and try to get unemployment.”
He and a number of other business owners are planning hiring events in August. Across Baton Rouge, “We’re hiring” signs have popped up on numerous business marquees.
There may not be a job for everyone who wants one, and there are also legitimate health risks for workers in some industries.
“At the end of the day, you have bills and they have to be paid,” Smith said.
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