No more benefits, if you’re not looking for a job. That’s the change on the way for Oregon in the next couple months.
Oregonians will have to show they’re trying to find work in order to continue getting unemployment payments. Acting Director of the Oregon Employment Department David Gerstenfeld explains that businesses are having trouble finding workers. “As the pandemic begins to fade and the economy changes we’re still focusing on how we can help fuel economic recovery, and help Oregonians overcome challenges related to employment,” he says.
In normal times, federal law requires people to show they’re trying to find a job while they collect unemployment. But the U.S. Congress allowed states to put that requirement on hold, because the pandemic forced so many businesses to close. Gerstenfeld says since the pandemic started. more than half a million Oregonians have collected unemployment payments.
Another change is also on the way.
The Oregon Employment Department says in July, it will finally start upgrading its obsolete computer system that pays out jobless benefits.
The upgrade’s been in a holding pattern for 12 years. That weakness that erupted into a catastrophic breakdown in distributing unemployment payments during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. Oregon was among the slowest in the nation at paying jobless benefits during the pandemic, with laid-off workers frequently waiting weeks or months for aid.
Gerstenfeld says other tech improvements are on the way too, as the economy recovers, more jobs come back, and businesses try to find workers. “We’re also in the process of creating a resource page on our website, to further help people return to work. And that is anticipated to be available to the public soon,” he says.
Oregon’s new system won’t be completely ready to run, until 2024.