CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce is reintroducing a state requirement that mandates people receiving benefits prove they are actively looking for work.
The requirement was put on hold more than a year ago because of the pandemic.
SCDEW spokesperson Heather Biance says now is the time to start thinking about finding a new job before the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation boost to benefits runs out.
“You can be selective now,” Biance said. “The reality is at some point these federal extension programs and the supplemental dollars though the FPUC program will expire and we do not want people to be caught off guard. We want people to go back to work on their terms.”
As of Sunday, those receiving benefits are required to make two job searches a week.
Biance says finding a job can be a long and difficult process which is why those searches do not have to result in an interview or even an application.
“They simply can search for a position or jobs available in their geographic region for something that they would be qualified for,” Biance said. “Some people may be over complicating it. State regulation does not state they have to apply for a job or interview for a job each week they simply have to do a search within SCWOS.”
Job searches are completed through the SC Works Online Services portal and automatically linked to a claimant’s benefits portal. Biance says as along as you click on any of the 75,000 job postings you qualify for, it should register as a job search. She also says this a good opportunity for employers to add their opening to SCWOS.
Kerry Botz is a co-owner of the Charleston Bakery and Deli in Summerville. They recently had to change their business hours because of a staffing shortage. Botz says she hopes the work search requirement will help increase the number of applicants.
“I think it will help, but there are a lot of restaurants that are hurting right now,” Botz said. “Right now, I am in my fourth week of not having a day off.”
There are still around 120,000 people still receiving unemployment benefits.
The unemployment rate remains around 5.1 percent according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the same time in 2019, unemployment hovered at 3.2 percent. Botz believes the federal boost to unemployment may be partially to blame for the lack of applicants.
“I don’t want to get political, but I think all the extra money that people are getting is not motivating them to go out and look for a job,” Botz said. “My customers are all coming back, and tourism is coming back but its not helping that I can’t find anybody to work.”
A month after posting several positions, Botz says she has received applications for one baking spot, but still has two more jobs to fill.
Biance says if you’re looking for work and need help if an application, resume or interviewing to visit one of their SC Works centers. You can find more information on those here.