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Hoosiers requesting state unemployment benefits will have to prove they’re looking for full-time work

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INDIANAPOLIS (WPTA21) — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an executive order Tuesday that reinstates the measure requiring Hoosiers filing for unemployment benefits to show they're looking for work.

The federal government previously authorized states to waive work search requirements during the height of the pandemic.

Indiana joins Ohio and Kentucky who have also reinstated those requirements.

This executive order kicks in on June 1.

That means folks filing for unemployment will have to share a weekly work search report. These reports will have to show you've applied for a job, attended a job fair, participated in a WorkOne orientation, or completed an online workshop.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development will notify affected Hoosiers about these changes so they can have time to prepare for the renewed requirements.

The governor is also hinting he may disconnect Indiana from enhanced unemployment benefits coming down from the federal government, that currently give Hoosiers requesting such benefits an additional $300.00 a week.

Critics claim those enhanced benefits are convincing too many people that it pays better to stay out of the job market and that it's fueling a labor shortage for businesses.

Northeast Indiana Works, the state's employment agency for this region, says there are multiple factors driving the labor shortage, including people who are retiring early or are anxious about returning to job sites they may feel are unsafe due to the COVID-19 threat.

"We can presume that for those who haven't been looking for work, that resuming the work search activities, that that's going to bring some people into the workforce. It doesn't guarantee that it will bring everyone back to the workforce," said Rick Farrant, the communications director for Northeast Indiana Works.

State Senator Liz Brown from Fort Wayne says changes are needed to better protect businesses.

"We see employers locally raising their rates to $15.00 an hour, but they're still not getting employees to come back to work because they're making more money staying at home, it is a big problem. And I've seen other Republican governors in other states saying enough is enough. I'm glad Governor Holcomb said you need to look for work, that requirement is back in play," Brown said.

In response to Holcomb's executive order, the Indiana Democratic Party issued the following statement:

“The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on why a living wage is necessary in order for Hoosier families to have a shot at a better future in Indiana. So while Governor Holcomb is guiding Hoosiers back to a pre-pandemic normalcy, we cannot ignore the reality that it's time for Indiana to increase its minimum wage and provide better opportunities for our workers. Over 892,000 Hoosiers currently earn a minimum wage job, and while it's a goal for every worker to achieve their highest potential, we must do everything possible to create a bridge to help all Hoosiers succeed," Lauren Ganapini, executive director for the Indiana Democratic Party said.

You can learn more about the state's work search program here.

You can read the executive order here:

Executive-Order-21-13-Recission-of-Prior-Directives

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Kayla Crandall

Kayla Crandall is an Emmy award-winning journalist. She serves as the Social Media and Digital Content Manager at WPTA. Follow her on Twitter @KaylerJayne.

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