Job searches now temporarily optional for those unemployed in Washington state

If you are unemployed, here is one less thing to worry about.

On Tuesday, the state Employment Security Department relaxed rules requiring those seeking jobless aid to also actively go out and seek work.

According to ESD, “the job search requirement to receive unemployment insurance benefits was made optional on Tuesday, another in a series of measures by Gov. Jay Inslee and the state Employment Security Department to increase access to unemployment benefits for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The agency added, “This measure will be retroactive to March 8 and will continue until further notice.”

The task of actively seeking work in Washington state grew increasingly difficult amid the coronavirus outbreak and was made more difficult with the governor’s “stay-at-home” order, limiting travel only to essential trips or to essential jobs.

“Our top priorities in this crisis are to get benefits out to eligible Washingtonians as quickly as possible, help more people become eligible and help employers who are hiring get the staff they need right now,” Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said in a news release.

“Waiving the job search requirement helps make it easier for people to use the benefit.”

LeVine said she hoped those who could do so would still seek employment available among the state’s essential-need industries, which have been allowed to continue operations during the outbreak.

“... by emphasizing that job searches are optional, we hope to encourage those recently laid off to pursue the many jobs we so deeply need filled in our state right now. Especially since Unemployment Insurance is partial wage replacement, we recognize that the best option is for people to obtain a job rather than unemployment insurance,” LeVine said. “We encourage anyone who has been laid off to continue in their job search through WorkSource or other online job search websites.”

The governor also recently issued an order that waived the traditional waiting week for aid, allowing payments to start from the first week of eligibility.

“Gov. Inslee has also requested of the White House an expansion of eligibility for the benefit, which is still under consideration,” the ESD said in Tuesday’s announcement.

For more information, go to the Employment Security Department’s website.

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