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Christie Proposes to Toughen Rules for Those Seeking Unemployment – Is this Fair? [POLL]

Joe Raedle, Getty Images
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

While it’s probably no picnic filing for unemployment, the Christie administration is seeking to add an extra step in order for you to qualify.

You’d be required to go to a state run website called Jobs4Jersey.com each week in order to show you’re seriously searching for a job.

Some may think it’s not fair, for whatever reason, but do you?

According to this,

New Jerseyans hunting for jobs would have to climb an extra hurdle before they can collect weekly unemployment benefits under new regulations being proposed by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration.

Jobless residents would have to search for openings online, on a state-run jobs board called Jobs4Jersey.com, every week. The only current requirement is that they check in with state officials by phone, mail, in person or online.

The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development said a weekly search of the jobs board is “the very least that a claimant can do” and the governor expects to save money for New Jersey taxpayers by putting more people back to work.

“If a claimant fails to simply register with Jobs4Jersey, then he or she is not actively seeking work and should not collect benefits,” Labor Department officials wrote in the New Jersey Register, detailing their proposal.

But some worry the added requirement could have unintended consequences for people who lack Internet access at home.

“To create these super-technical conditions on benefits for workers who are spending every waking hour trying to find a job, it looks pretty mean-spirited,” said Maurice Emsellem, co-policy director at the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for lower wage workers. “These are people who are already having trouble navigating the system.”

Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer), who has sponsored legislation to make it easier for residents to get unemployment benefits, said such a change “would prove very cumbersome for those without access to the Internet, those who may not feel comfortable using technology and those who may have trouble understanding the directions.”

“Once again the administration is taking the wrong direction and seemingly making things unnecessarily difficult for working class New Jerseyans looking to get back on their feet,” DeAngelo said.

Spokespeople for Christie and the Labor Department declined to comment, saying state officials would wait until April 20, the deadline for submitting public comments for the proposed change.

Jennifer Burnett, a research specialist at the Council of State Governments, said states commonly require proof that someone is actively seeking employment, and many require residents to enroll in a job search or career program.

Burnett said she does not know of any other state that mandates residents check a website at specific intervals. “That doesn’t mean there isn’t one,” Burnett said. “I’m just not aware of one.”

The New Jersey trust fund that pays for unemployment compensation went broke in March 2009 after years in which state officials raided billions of dollars for other budget items. Since then, the state has been borrowing money from the federal government, and owed $1.8 billion to the feds as of April 2012, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services last year.

“Employers are currently paying higher federal and state (unemployment insurance) taxes and an additional annual assessment to reimburse the federal government for the principal and interest of the loan,” OLS analysts wrote. Labor Department officials had been planning to “pay off the entire loan balance by June 30, 2013,” the OLS added.

OK, so now it’s, according to Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, unfair to those who lack internet access.

I would think that internet access is available to anyone needing to use a computer, such as a library.

And seeing is how the fund had been depleted, and is working on borrowed money; do you really think it’s “unfair” to add this extra step to insure that those on unemployment truly are trying to get off of it.

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