Last Sunday, the work search requirement to receive unemployment benefits was restored.
Waived for nearly a year during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic – when sectors that depend on in-person visits saw jobs simply evaporate – the requirement means people must contact two employers each week to look for work in order to qualify for their weekly unemployment payments.
The change follows weeks of employers’ complaints of challenges in filling vacant positions. Some restaurants and retailers reported having to reduce hours of operations, close locations, or struggle through short-staffed shifts, as shown in the above tweet that went viral last month. Employers speculated they were being outcompeted by robust unemployment benefits that include an additional $300 per week during the pandemic; some instituted signing bonuses or other incentives, but still struggled to hire.
The Chamber agrees it’s time to bring this requirement back. When the pandemic’s blow to the economy meant there were no jobs to be had, it didn’t make sense to require persistent and repeated job search contacts. But now, restrictions are easing: all but three counties in the state are in the least-restrictive Turquoise Level and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham predicts we’ll be able to dispense with the color-coded reopening framework as soon as the end of next month. To get our communities’ local economies up and running again, our businesses need to be able to hire to get back to work.
KRQE reported last week that, as of Friday, more than 81,000 New Mexicans were receiving unemployment benefits.
You can find more information about the work search requirement on the Department of Workforce Solutions website here.