Californians Getting Unemployment Have to Start Looking for Work Next Month to Remain Eligible

June 20, 2021 Updated: June 20, 2021

Residents of California who receive unemployment benefits will have to, starting next month, show they are actively looking for work—which was waived by the state last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting in mid-July, the state’s Employment Development Department will reinstate the federal requirement requiring people who are out of work to be actively searching for a job. The work-search rule was waived in March of 2020.

“Starting July 11, 2021, Californians receiving unemployment benefits should begin looking for work to maintain their eligibility. EDD will send claimants notifications informing them of the reinstatement of this requirement and what it means for them,” the agency wrote on Twitter.

Recipients of unemployment benefits will have to create an account on California’s CalJOBS website and post their profile on several work search websites, Employment Development Department director Rita Saenz told the Los Angeles Times. They can also let prior employers and community members know they’re looking for work, and they can apply for suitable jobs to satisfy state requirements to still receive benefits, she said.

Agency officials told the LA Times that individuals who certify they can’t work, including because they provide the primary child care for their family, are exempt from the work-search rule.

“California offers many resources to help people to find safe and suitable careers and training opportunities that keep the economy moving,” Saenz said last week of the development. “We want to make sure those on unemployment have enough lead time to start searching for work so they can remain eligible for benefits as they seek their next career opportunity,” she added.

Republicans and business groups have said that the expanded unemployment benefits authorized in Congress starting last year—as well as some states’ waiving requirements on job searches—sparked a worker shortage across the United States. About 20 GOP-led states have announced an early end to the federal unemployment benefits, which paid people $300 per week, due to the shortage.

President Joe Biden earlier this month suggested that the administration has no appetite to push for the enhanced unemployment program to continue past September, when it’s slated to expire.

“The temporary boost in unemployment benefits … helped people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and are still maybe in the process of getting vaccinated, but it’s going to expire in 90 days,” Biden said on June 4, although he pushed back against the claim that it’s discouraged people from getting jobs.