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Job search requirement for WA unemployment suspended through late January

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Washingtonians applying for unemployment can breathe a sigh of relief — the job search requirement will not be coming back until the week of January 24, at the earliest.

That means when applicants file their weekly claims, answering “no” on the question of whether or not they’re seeking employment will not disqualify them from receiving unemployment benefits.

During non-pandemic times, unemployment applicants need to answer “yes” to that question, and, after the first five weeks of receiving unemployment, need to list the job search activities they have performed in the last week.

WA unemployment applicants could soon have to show proof of work search

The job search requirement was first suspended by Gov. Jay Inslee when the pandemic began because of the widespread job losses in Washington.

Joy Adams, quality assurance manager for the Employment Security Department, explained at an Unemployment Insurance Advisory Committee meeting in October that at the time, there simply were not the jobs out there for people to apply to — or the resources to help them apply.

“We knew that neither claimants nor employers could adequately absorb the demand that would be created by a million people being suddenly being thrust into job search,” she explained. “Our WorkSource centers were not available — so many of those staff were turned to basic intake and adjudication, they were not able to provide the work search-required activities at the WorkSource offices.”

The governor has since lengthened the suspension several times, with the support of the Legislature. It was set to expire this week, but in light of the COVID-related economic challenges that still remain, Inslee opted to extend it again.

“We recognize the challenging economic conditions and difficult circumstances people face given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis and we have updated our job search requirements to better fit the times,” the ESD stated in a press release. “We are committed to helping you understand the requirements before you need to report job searches in your weekly claim.”

You can still get virtual help with finding employment from WorkSource by visiting worksourcewa.com.

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