Holcomb to reinstate job-seeking rule for unemployed, study whether to ax federal benefit

Gov. Eric Holcomb is set to reinstate a requirement that those applying to collect unemployment benefits actively seek jobs and be available for work—a requirement that the state has waived since the beginning of the pandemic.

Holcomb announced on Friday evening that he planned to issue an executive order to that effect early next week. He also said that he had directed the Department of Workforce Development to ensure that the state is providing “all needed support services for those who are out of work.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb

Holcomb also said Friday that he is weighing whether the state should continue to participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs, which expand who is eligible for unemployment and boosts payments. Recipients are currently receiving $300 per week from the federal government in addition to state benefits.

States are eligible to provide the extra federal payments through Labor Day under the $1.9 billion American Rescue Plan passed by the Democrat-controlled Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden in March. However, Montana and South Carolina said this week that they would opt out of the federal program, while several other governors have said they are considering doing so. Montana announced it would implement a return-to-work bonus program.

Holcomb’s office declined to specify Friday whether the governor is considering eliminating the extra payments, using federal money in a different way or changing who is eligible.

Holcomb said in his Friday press release that he has “asked the Department of Workforce Development to complete a demographic analysis of unemployed Hoosiers over the past 16 months so I have the best information available to make an informed decision.”

Holcomb’s moves come as some employers—particularly those in the hospitality industry—complain that many workers aren’t applying for jobs because it’s more lucrative to receive unemployment. With the state and federal benefits combined, an unemployed Hoosier could receive as much as $690 per week in benefits, although most receive less. That’s the equivalent of $17.25 an hour based on a 40-hour work week.

Holcomb said part of the state’s analysis in considering whether to stop the federal add-on is comparing the Indiana “workforce now versus before the start of the pandemic.” The state’s unemployment rate in March was 3.9%, compared with 3.2% in March 2020, just as the pandemic hit.

Fear of the virus and the shutdown ordered by the governor put tens of thousands of Hoosiers out of work quickly. In April 2020, the unemployment rate rose to 16.9%. It has been falling since then.

“We must concentrate on building the right pathways to match people with the skill sets employers need and to attract more people to join our workforce,” Holcomb wrote in his statement Friday.

Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, told IBJ this week that workers who previously made less than $15 an hour might be tempted to stay on unemployment benefits, given the federal add-on.

Michael Hicks

But Hicks said there are myriad reasons some Hoosiers are not yet returning to the workforce. Among them: Non-vaccinated workers might be anxious about returning to an environment where they could be exposed to the virus. Parents could be putting off a return to the labor force to continue caring for children who are still in virtual learning. Workers forced to find new jobs after losing another could be opting to stay where they’ve landed.

In addition, Hicks said on Friday that an April jobs report showed earnings in the hospitality industry are down from last year, indicating the sector is “not facing a labor shortage that is sufficiently acute for them to adjust wages upward.”

“Importantly,” he said, “workers are leaving the [unemployment] roles at a rate almost five times that of new job creation over the past month. This makes clear there is an abundant supply of men and women not receiving compensation.”

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22 thoughts on “Holcomb to reinstate job-seeking rule for unemployed, study whether to ax federal benefit

  1. Great! It makes absolutely no sense at all that Indiana business are scrambling, begging, and pleading for workers and the state and Feds are shoveling money to the unfortunate unemployed that are struggling to survive because they can’t find a job. Jobs are everywhere so let capitalism and free enterprise thrive.

  2. Enough of the extra unemployment already… every business owner I know (including myself) can’t find enough workers. People can sit at home and make the same or more in many cases than working, that’s ridiculous, END IT!

    1. Unemployment is 47% of your wage, to a max of $390/ week. if you’re paying nine bucks an hour then no wonder you can’t find workers…

    2. Here’s something from this week’s IBJ. Make sure you read to the end.

      “Scotten, however, said the emergency supports might be a pretty significant factor. Though he’s managed to set up many interviews, some applicants seem more interested in creating the illusion that they’re looking for work than actually getting a job, he said.

      “They’re not in a real rush to get back to the workforce,” he said. “I’ve scheduled interviews, five or six in a day, and one or two show up. Most of the time, I don’t even follow up with them. I just try to move on and find the next applicant.”

      Several former Loughmiller employees simply moved on to other work during the pandemic, Scotten said. In many cases, it was a job with better pay and daytime hours. His own experience with having been laid off made him realize the importance of spending time with his son, and many in the restaurant industry have used the pandemic as a time to re-evaluate their priorities.

      “I think a lot of people used this last year to reflect and go out and find something else they want to do,” he said. “People came back with a little higher sense of value for their time.”


  3. Households with $50,000 income struggle to afford child care, so it’s no wonder people making less than half that on minimum wages find it less expensive to stay home and take care of their own kids. But then how do these families afford food, rent, utilities, etc.? They are between a rock and a very hard place.

    So are small business owners, especially those like restauranteurs who can’t yet operate at full capacity. Too many have closed permanently, as have the job openings they would have provided. That should have “freed up” many workers.

    Low paid workers HAVE been looking for a year now for jobs with
    * enough pay to pay their bills,
    * safety from COVID for themselves and their families;
    *. health insurance in case they become infected and hospitalized.

    Working families clearly have more than economic concerns when life itself is at greater risk.

    1. Everyone has free “safety from COVID for themselves and their families”….. get vaccinated.

    2. Yes, please everyone participate in the Moderna and Pfizer Vaccine trial. We have no idea what the long term effects of the vaccine, but we will have really good data if 150,000 million citizen participate in the propagandemic trial. The survival rate is 99+% so injecting yourself with an unknown chemical compound that reprograms your RNA is the best route to a healthy society.

      Clearly if the vaccine was viable they would approve it for general use instead of leaving it on “emergency authorization. But that may be 5-7 years before they fully evaluate the data on the vaccine trials. And since it is emergency authorization, you have zero recourse against the manufacturer.

      If you want safety trust that propaganda is not the answer and that your God given immune system is successful 99+% of the time.

  4. Eric “Thought Leadering from Behind” Holcomb strikes again, slowly, after sticking his finger in the air and being told what to do by his crony contributors. There is nothing conservative in this loser, much less anything principled like actual federalism or trusting the free market.

  5. Somewhere there is an enormous disconnect. Every business owner I talk to, from small business with 50 people to major corporations with 10,000’s of thousand of employees, the topic of finding workers in the USA (not overseas) is a problem. There are more job openings in the USA than the unemployment numbers show. I know there can be a mismatch of skills vs. work force capability to explain some of these discrepancies, but when you dive into the different job openings, with little to no prior experience and/or one year experience required, one can only draw the conclusion that the USA workforce does not want to work. Maybe an example will help. First I have no investment nor connections to the Pizza business. The only connection is I am guilty of eating pizza more than I probably should. Let’s take Papa Johns. The average Papa John’s salary ranges from approximately $25,000 per year for Retail Assistant Manager to $50,187 per year for Pizza Cook. The delivery drivers for Pizza Hut average $34,593; for Papa John’s Pizza drivers average $32,884; for Domino’s Pizza drivers average $31,266. These companies have thousands of open positions advertised all over the USA. Regarding the statement of inadequate pay – there are so many unfilled jobs in almost every industry currently, that if you do not like the pay you are getting in the industry you are currently working, then switch jobs …. that is what I did … show initiative … most employers like that trait in their employees and reward them accordingly. I am not recommending everybody apply for a “pizza” job but you can see there are good paying jobs with benefits out there if you apply yourself. One thing I learned early in my career, nothing is going to be given to you on a “golden platter”, it’s all about what you put into the effort. And finally this is one of the reasons so many corporations moved their operations overseas decades ago. As Steve Jobs explained to President Obama, “…. too late, the train left the station years ago and it is never coming back”. Don’t let the excuses being given overwhelm your thoughts, not everything will be perfect for the job you want, but to get that perfect job, sometimes it takes several steps and demonstration of showing initiative, and the risk of not looking at this positively as an opportunity to move from a job to a career, the job you may want will no longer exist, once it leaves and/or is replaced by alternative means.

  6. Like several people have mentioned, extra unemployment benefits is not keeping people out of the workforce. To put this in perspective, about 2.3% of jobs in the workforce are at minimum wage, so the extra benefit affect a small portion of the jobs.

    People are staying of of the workforce, for multiple reasons; avoiding child care costs, fear of COVID, re-training for better jobs, maybe moving to jobs that allow working from home, with the accompanying flexibility and convenience, better home life experience, etc… I think people have finally realized that those bottom of the scale jobs are not worth having for lots of reasons and not just because jobless benefits are paying pretty good right now.

  7. As long as the Government is handing out money and people don’t have to work for it, they will continue to do so. People have an excuse for everything and to use the excuse that pay isn’t enough? GO OUT AND EDUCATE YOURSELF OR WORK HARDER FOR A BETTER JOB. It isn’t anyone’s responsibility but your own. If you want everything done for you, LEAVE AMERICA!

  8. All good comments but the reality is that the current administration is trying to de-incentivize the workforce by printing money and distributing it to the masses. That is their plan. They want to take away the ambition, drive, and entrepreneurial spirit that has built this nation. It is a devilish plot and is working, unfortunately.
    As an example, we took an application from a couple who want to rent a single-family home we manage. The guy was at the bare minimum income level in order to qualify. When told he was a weak applicant he said his girlfriend was not working but had income. We asked him to explain and he said she gets $1600/mo. unemployment but starting in July she will get another $800/mo for the child earned income credit for a total of $2400/mo from the taxpayers! If the populace has no work ethic, they become dependent on the government, which is what they want. Biden is on record that he wants to strengthen unions and grow them back to where they once were. The union provides money to the democratic party, and also votes for their candidates and they also want to eliminate the right-to-work laws in states that have it now. This is all part of their master plan. God help us.

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