S.C. unemployment benefits now require work searches again

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 8:36 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2021 at 8:37 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Requirements to get unemployment benefits in South Carolina have changed.

As of Sunday, the state’s work-search requirement is now back in effect.

That means if you’re filing for benefits, you have to complete two work searches in your SC Works online services account per week.

That requirement was previously put on hold because of the pandemic. In Georgia, the state’s Labor Department’s website says work search requirements are still being waived until further notice.

South Carolina’s unemployment agency says it hopes this will help businesses overcome under-staffing challenges.

Each week, claimants will need to complete two tasks to remain eligible for benefits:

If a claimant can certify their claim each week, they can complete the work searches.

“We have made it clear to claimants, that if they do not perform the two work searches for a claim week, they will not be paid unemployment benefits. It is as simple as that,” Department of Employment and Workforce Dan Ellzey said.

Many positions are still open

Officials with the DEW say many jobs across the state have not been filled as the calendar turns toward the spring and summer months.

“Over the past few months, we have moved our focus to filling the open and posted jobs in the state,” Ellzey said in a statement. “At this point in time, there are 85,000 jobs posted by employers in the state of South Carolina. Meanwhile, we have approximately 116,000 people receiving unemployment benefits each week. That really does not make sense, and we have to get people to start looking for jobs.”

In Myrtle Beach, some Grand Strand businesses said they’ve been severely understaffed and they just don’t see how a job search requirement will fix it.

Sharon Treffeisen, owner of Hot Tomato in Myrtle Beach, says it’s been extremely difficult for the business to staff enough workers to meet customer demands.

“We pay competitive wages for our hourly employees here but we’re not getting the opportunity for them to come in and interview because we can’t compete with how much money they can get paid to stay at home, depending on their skill level,” she said.

Treffeisen questions how the DEW’s job search requirement will truly fix their under-staffing issues.

“Unless there’s some find of follow up from the department of workforce, it’s not going to do anything,” she said. “It’s just going to increase the amount of people that are coming in for the interviews.”

Employees at Dirty Don’s Oyster Bar & Grill are having a similar experience.

Server Aspen Boyd says employees are feeling the staffing pains and they’re a bit doubtful a job search requirement will help provide customers the best experience they want to provide them.

“There needs to be stricter rules on unemployment,” said Boyd. “People who need it should receive it of course. But just a simple click of button right to show you’re trying to find a job, I don’t think that cuts it.”

WMBF News also spoke with a spokesperson for the DEW, who said people collecting unemployment and are having to do the two job search per week are not legally required to apply or interview for the job:

“Per state regulation, claimants are only responsible for completing two work searches in SCWOS (SC Works Online Services) portal, but they are not required by law to apply or interview for a job. The work search requirement was waived for more than a year, but with the unemployment rate going down, more people going back to work and more jobs being available, it is time to bring the work search requirement back into effect. We know finding the right fit with a new job takes time, but we are confident that this positive habit of searching for work each week will give claimants an informed pulse on who’s hiring in their community.” -Heather Biance, Spokesperson, DEW

Staff at Hot Tomato say they’re seeking to hire people for numerous roles which include servers, hosts and kitchen positions.

Dirty Don’s is hiring for three locations. Those positions include servers and kitchen roles.

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Copyright 2021 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.