Wisconsin Assembly speaker suggests he supports requiring people to look for work before getting jobless benefits


Republican lawmakers in Madison are not in a hurry to let people continue to apply for unemployment benefits without looking for work first.

Wisconsin’s rule that waived the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits expired last week. On Tuesday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said that may be for the best.

“I have concerns that just extending the one-week waiting period and not having the requirement that people look for work is having an unintended consequence,” Vos told reporters.

Wisconsin has waived the job search requirement since last spring; in that time, nearly 600,000 people filed for unemployment in the state. Many waited months to be paid.

Unemployment in Wisconsin spiked in April 2020, hitting 14.1%. Last month unemployment in the state was down to 5.5%.

Vos said the problem now is not that people need their unemployment benefits immediately – he said the problem is that businesses need workers immediately.

“If you talk to people in jobs that are in high demand, in manufacturing, in production, in grocery stores and things like that, they still are unable to find enough people to fill their open positions,” Vos explained. “So I think the problem is not the suspension of the one-week waiting period, it’s getting more people into the workforce.”

Vos did say that Republicans in both the Assembly and Senate have not had formal discussions about the waiting period, so he can’t say for certain what the Legislature will do.

Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development said this week that people who file new unemployment claims this week will have to wait a week before their claim can be processed. DWD tried last month to end the waiting period on its own, but lawyers for the Legislature said the department didn’t have the power to do so.

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