Unemployment work search requirement kicks in

If you're receiving unemployment benefits from the state of Wisconsin, you must now prove you're searching for work. That requirement was waived during the coronavirus pandemic.

As more business owners look for people to hire, those who are unemployed must again tell the state how many jobs they've applied for to continue to receive unemployment benefits. The requirement was re-instated by lawmakers, but for some job seekers, the requirement is not an issue. That is, if they could get their unemployment benefits approved.

Taking effect Sunday, May 23, those receiving unemployment benefits must once again notify the state they are actively searching for work.

"I would rather work, absolutely!" said Jermil Garrett. "Absolutely, I would rather work than sit and wait on them."  

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Garrett said he's still waiting for his unemployment to be approved.

"'You gotta wait. You gotta wait,’" said Garrett. "Well, in the meantime, how am I supposed to provide? How am I supposed to pay my bills? Like, what am I supposed to do?"  

Garrett said he's been able to get by through temp work and is still looking. He said would love to be able to tell the state as such if it meant he would have some financial insurance.

"The job search requirement waiver ended about seven weeks earlier than we planned, so it's really important that we reach out in as many ways possible because it's coming up this coming week," said Amy Barrilleaux, communications director for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Lawmakers re-instated the work search requirement for unemployment, with job seekers required to prove four job search actions a week, like sharing a resume, registering for temp work, meeting with career counselors or going to an interview.

"We understand that it's not easy to go from a year-long pandemic to suddenly, 'I'm stepping back into the workforce,' because there's still a lot of hurdles out there," said Barrilleaux.

They're hurdles Garrett is still trying to jump over.

"I’m getting nowhere, and I’m getting really frustrated," he said.

He said it's not stopping him or his efforts, though.

DWD officials said those who are receiving unemployment and searching for a job can still work part-time or in temporary positions to keep your skills current, and you may still be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. However, failure to accurately report work, money made or job searches could mean your benefits get denied.