Job search requirements don’t solve worker shortage for businesses

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- During the pandemic, the unemployed were not required to look for work in order to receive benefits.

After a vote to eliminate the state’s emergency rule waiving work search requirements, that will change soon.

“The goal is to make sure that people who are collecting unemployment benefits are looking for work,” said Amy Barrilleaux, communications director for the Department of Workforce Development.

The work search requirements existed before the pandemic, but the DWD is seeing a group of people who will be new to the requirements.

“Our concern right now is we have about 100,000 people who are going to have to start fulfilling this work search requirement next week and a lot of these people have never received unemployment insurance benefits until this pandemic so they’re not familiar with this requirement that existed in the pre-pandemic time,” said Barrilleaux.

Places like restaurants have been looking for help since they opened back up to in-person dining, but have experienced a worker shortage.

Restaurants are happy to see the work search requirements be put back in place but know it isn’t necessarily a fix, said Kristine Hillmer, president of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association.

“We also understand that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a solution for the hospitality industry, we do understand that. Just because someone is searching for a job doesn’t mean it’s their best fit,” Hillmer said.

It may not be the solution that solves the worker shortage, but some say it’s a step in the right direction.

“We do see it as a positive step forward, that more folds are going to be applying for jobs and taking jobs and so on but again as I said along the way, there’s so much more in it that this is just one piece in a very large complex puzzle that was going to have to unravel,” Hillmer said.

Even though the unemployed will be required to start searching for jobs to receive benefits, businesses in the area may still have to wait before finding the right fit.