Bill could raise job application requirements for unemployment

The Alabama Statehouse
The Alabama Statehouse(Source: WSFA 12 News file photo)
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 8:30 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Changes are on the way for those receiving unemployment benefits from the state. There could be more requirements to get that support. Alabama is one of only four states to require one job application per week to receive unemployment, SB 224 would change that to three.

Some lawmakers say this will help bring more people back to the workforce, while others question the potential negative impact of this legislation.

“The pandemic is still here,” said Rep. Rolanda Hollis, D-Jefferson County.

But that’s no longer a reason to stay out of the workforce, according to her and Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Jefferson County. They say changes need to happen.

“Stay safe, but it’s time to get out and go to work and get off your butt,” said Hollis.

“We’re in a situation now where we have a labor participation issue. Plenty of jobs available,” said Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Jefferson County.

Requiring people to apply for three jobs per week will put Alabama’s unemployment in line with surrounding states.

“Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee all require three times a week,” said Garrett. “Florida requires five times a week.”

And while there are people who manipulate the unemployment system, according to the state’s Department of Labor, one of the reasons people struggle to find a job is spatial disparity.

“What If you’re in an area where there’re no jobs? What effect is that going to have?” said Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-House District 82.

Boyd says she’s worried about the negative impact on those where jobs aren’t as available.

“There’s so many out there who don’t abuse,” said Boyd. “Who belong not to how you or me would need this, but there are many who I think maybe are searching.”

Garrett said the state does offer training to help people become qualified for certain jobs and keep their unemployment.

“And we’ve got very good participation in those programs right now,” he said.

Those programs can be found via the state’s Department of Labor.

The bill will now move to the House floor, where if passed and signed by the governor, the change would go into effect July 1.

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