Be certain that those who have always opposed this requirement will use the pandemic as an excuse to prevent it from being reinstated. This is a simple social contract. We are generous people who are cool with helping out people who are out of work due to no fault of their own. But if you can’t work, then the the unemployment system isn’t for you. It isn’t supposed to be welfare. And if you don’t want to work, that’s on you. The rest of us aren’t going to pay able-bodied people to sit at home and play video games.
A tenet of the U.S. unemployment system has been that anyone collecting benefits, in good times and bad, must look for work.
That quid pro quo changed early in the pandemic. Profound fears of contagion and the sudden need for millions of workers to become caregivers led states to lift the requirements for reasons both practical and compassionate.
But as vaccinations increase and the economy revs back to life, more than half of all states have revived their work search requirements. Arkansas and Louisiana did so months ago in an effort to push workers off their swollen unemployment rolls. Others, like Vermont and Kentucky, have followed in the last few weeks.
Business groups say bringing back work search requirements will help juice the labor market and dissuade workers from waiting to return to their old employers or holding out for remote or better-paying jobs.
Opponents contend that the mandate keeps undue numbers of Americans from continuing to receive needed benefits because it can be hard to meet the sometimes arduous requirements, including documenting the search efforts. And they say workers may be forced to apply for and accept lower-paying or less-satisfying jobs at a time when the pandemic has caused some to reassess the way they think about their work, their family needs and their prospects.