Louisianians collecting unemployment now expected to look for work

Half a million state residents currently receiving benefits

By: - August 3, 2020 7:18 pm

William Kenneth Walker, a bartender at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, told the Louisiana House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee June 25 that if the federal government stops adding $600 to his weekly unemployment benefits, that he’s likely to be homeless. Walker was testifying in support of House Bill Resolution 48 by Rep. Ted James which would have asked Congress to extend the payments. The resolution failed. (Screenshot from www.legis.la.gov)

The Louisiana Workforce Commission released a video Monday afternoon informing Louisianians receiving unemployment benefits that they are now expected to search for three jobs a week in order to remain qualified for  unemployment insurance.

Looking for work while on unemployment is a part of the normal, pre-pandemic rules that had been suspended while the novel coronavirus swept through the country. But according to the LWC’s video, starting August 9, those expectations will be back in place.

“Work search is back!” the LWC video begins.  “So why are we bringing it back now? We understand the $600 Federal Unemployment Pandemic Assistance has ended. We want to give everyone a chance to get back to work as soon as possible.”

Those applying for continued unemployment insurance will have to show that they have looked for work either by contacting an employer through a website, with an email, by fax or phone or by attending a job fair.

People who are unable to work for COVID-19 reasons aren’t required to search for work and the video provides instructions about how to enter that information into the state’s website.

According to a chart posted on the LWC website, for the week ending July 25, there were 17, 578 initial claims for unemployment insurance filed by Louisianians typically eligible for those benefits and 314,448 continuing claims for a total of 332,026.  For Louisianians who are self-employed, there were another 168,835 claims.  The video released by LWC doesn’t say if self-employed workers will also be expected to look for work.




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Jarvis DeBerry
Jarvis DeBerry

Jarvis DeBerry, editor of the Louisiana Illuminator, spent 22 years at The Times-Picayune (and later NOLA.com) as a crime and courts reporter, an editorial writer, columnist and deputy opinions editor. He was on the team of Times-Picayune journalists awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service after that team’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the deadly flood that followed. In addition to the shared Pulitzer, DeBerry has won awards from the Louisiana Bar Association for best trial coverage and awards from the New Orleans Press Club, the Louisiana/ Mississippi Associated Press and the National Association of Black Journalists for his columns. A collection of his Times-Picayune columns, “I Feel to Believe” was published by the University of New Orleans Press in September 2020.