Governor explains unemployment benefit woes


LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- The job search requirement for unemployed workers goes into effect this week in Louisiana.

News 10 spoke with Gov. John Bel Edwards Friday who explained why the Louisiana Workforce Commission is again requiring job searches from benefit recipients.

“People can’t live on the $247 a week in state benefit alone so it’s essential that in order for them to make it to pay their rent and buy groceries and the essentials that we reconnect them to work where that is possible,” Edwards said.

Getting people back to work is the goal, but it could prove to be difficult. Louisiana Works lists about 50,000 job openings. Layoffs in the oil industry and specialized fields could make it even more challenging to find a job.

Gov. Edwards tells News 10 documentation is key as you search.

“But if they’re doing the search and they don’t find an employer with a job available to them, all they have to do is document that and they will be able to continue to receive their benefits,” explained Edwards.

The governor explained that people who can’t go to work because they have COVD-19 will be exempt from the job search, as will individuals who can’t work because of business restrictions due to COVID-19.

Otherwise, applicants must provide the names of at least three businesses per week they have contacted to find a job.

“I understand that there are people who are out of work through no fault of their own. But for those who can find a job, for the sake of their livelihoods, and for the economy of our state and given the precarious position of our trust fund, it is essential to do that,” the governor said.

Until this week, Louisianans who lost their jobs during the pandemic were eligible for the state benefit of $247, but the fund is in jeopardy. On average, the state has paid out more than $200 million dollars per month since the pandemic began in March.

The unemployment insurance account is down to $270 million dollars.

“We can’t continue to pay out the benefits at the pace we’ve been paying over the last number of months, because when we run out we can’t pay anybody,” said Edwards.

The governor explained that, at this point, raising taxes on businesses or a loan from the federal government would be the only way to replenish the unemployment trust fund.

Congress has yet to agree on whether to grant money to states in financial crisis or whether extend the $600 per week subsidy for unemployed workers.

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