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On Wednesday, House Republicans passed a change in unemployment policy designed to encourage Iowans to fill the thousands of job openings. Instead of thinking of this process as an unemployment policy, House Republicans are turning it into a re-employment policy. Right now, Iowa has 85,946 job openings posted, which is more jobs that workers available. This re-employment policy helps get workers back in the workforce and helps Iowa continue to thrive economically.

Major changes include reducing the unemployment weeks from 26 to 16. If unemployment is due to plant closure, the weeks are reduced from 39 to 26. Iowa is not the first state, nor the only state to have fewer than 26 weeks of unemployment. Near Iowa, Kansas and Arkansas also have 16 weeks of unemployment.

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This bill also changes the percentage of unemployment benefits one receives each week a person refuses a job offer. Benefits are 100% if the work is being offered during the first week of unemployment, benefits are 90% if the work is being offered during the second and third week of unemployment, benefits are 80% if the work is offered during the fourth and fifth week of unemployment, benefits are 70% if the work is offered during the sixth through eighth week of unemployment, and benefits are 60% if the work is offered after the eighth week of unemployment. Again, there are a lot of jobs available right now and businesses that are desperate for employees. This will incentivize those on unemployment to get back in the workforce sooner without relying on unemployment benefits.

These changes, in conjunction with the Re-Employment Case Management System Iowa Workforce Development that launched in January, will work together to get individuals back in the workforce and make Iowa’s economy thrive. When fully implemented, the RCM program will include 18 new Career Planners who are assigned to meet individually with Iowans seeking reemployment beginning with the first week of their unemployment claims.

The Career Planners work to directly connect unemployment claimants with training and educational opportunities in high-demand careers. They will be assisted by new technology that’s being added to Iowa’s existing
IowaWORKS system, thereby making it easier to match an unemployment claimant’s work history with the skills in demand by Iowa companies with open jobs.

Getting Iowans back in the workforce is good for everyone from the individual, to the businesses, to the State of Iowa. Iowa is a re-employment state.

Author: Norlin Mommsen

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