Lawmakers put job search requirement on unemployment benefit

April 6, 2022 GMT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — People receiving unemployment benefits in Alabama could soon face a new requirement to contact three potential employers each week in order to keep receiving benefits.

Alabama lawmakers gave final approval to the bill that now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey for her consideration. The House of Representatives voted 76-24 for the Senate-passed bill, and the Senate accepted a House change to the bill.

State law already requires people on unemployment to make an effort to secure work. The legislation would specify that the person must contact three potential employers about finding a job. The contacts could be made in person or by telephone or email, said Republican Rep. Danny Garrett, who handled the bill in the House.

Garrett said state rules now requirement one contact a week.

“Your odds are finding work are going to be better, I believe, if you are looking three times versus one time,” Garrett said.

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Supporters said the measure would make sure that unemployment recipients were looking for work and increase their chance of finding a job. But opponents argued it is punitive toward poor people.

Rep. Ralph Howard, a Democrat from Greensboro, said the requirement would be tough on low-income people in rural areas who may struggle finding transportation to get to job interviews and to a job.

“What are we gaining as a state, other than putting a hindrance on somebody who is already hindered? We don’t know why that person lost that job. We don’t know whether the plant closed,” Howard said.