In response to the article “Fixing flawed system of jobless benefits so it reflects economy” by Neil Irwin of the New York Times, two clichés come to mind: someone is asleep at the switch and nobody’s minding the store.
He states that “people who study unemployment benefits have warned that the American system of jobless insurance was too antiquated and clunky to meet the needs of workers in a time of economic crisis.” Let me take that a step further and say that it no longer meets the needs of employers either.
All around me I see banners indicating that companies are hiring. Then why are people still able to certify for unemployment at their current rate plus pandemic unemployment? Years ago, a recipient needed to show proof that they applied for positions before they were eligible to receive benefits; now it seems that those measures have gone by the wayside. Some say that the Department of Labor lacks the personnel to verify every applicant; however, if funds can be saved by confirming eligibility, then they’d have the resources to hire more inspectors.
Clearly, those who are kicking back at the local coffee shop sipping lattes for the remainder of the summer (since the payments are scheduled to end Sept. 6), can work. However, oversight is sorely lacking.
Montana is ending the charade. Beginning June 27, residents will lose the extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits, but maintain their regular benefits. Contractors, gig workers and others will also lose Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), meaning those workers won’t get any benefits. The state also plans to reinstate the requirement that stipulates workers must be actively searching for a job to qualify for unemployment benefits.