Weekly job search requirement for unemployment in Washington to return in July

Jun 10, 2021, 5:25 PM
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As the state looks toward reopening on June 30 and businesses get ready with new hires, the job search requirement to receive unemployment benefits is coming back.

For the first time in more than a year, starting the week of July 5, people will have to do three approved job search activities per week to continue getting unemployment.

The following week, they will need to document those activities in their unemployment applications.

“Starting today, and definitely starting next week, claimants are definitely getting the message — it’s time to start looking for work,” said Joy Adams, quality assurance manager at the Employment Security Department, during a meeting of the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Committee on Thursday. “And we’ll be emphasizing that over and over and over and over again.”

Work search requirement for unemployment suspended through at least January

With the approval of the Legislature, Governor Jay Inslee suspended the requirement after the pandemic began because, with so many businesses shut down or in reduced capacity, there simply were not enough available jobs out there to accommodate everyone in need.

“To receive unemployment insurance benefits, workers typically need to be laid off through no fault of their own, be able and available and actively seeking work,” explained Dan Zeitlin, system policy director at ESD. “And that last piece, actively seeking work, has not been a requirement throughout this crisis.”

Now, though, with the economy opening back up, people will be expected to show proof that they are looking for a new position.

However, this does not mean that they need to pound the pavement in the traditional sense.

With powers granted by a new law that the Legislature passed earlier this year, ESD has expanded the list of job search activities that will count toward the required three per week. This includes things that can be done virtually while the pandemic is still ongoing, such as watching a YouTube video about how to nail a job interview (and providing a link to the video) or writing an elevator pitch (with the document or a photo of it provided). A full list of approved activities can be found on ESD’s website.

The bill that passed the Legislature also gave ESD the flexibility to modify the job search requirement for the entire state or for certain regions during future times of crisis, without needing the governor and Legislature to issue a proclamation.

This means that if there was a natural disaster, such as a wildfire, in one part of the state that greatly affected the number of available jobs, the state could temporarily reduce the number of job search requirements in that region to one or two, or even temporarily remove the requirement altogether.

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Weekly job search requirement for unemployment in Washington to return in July