Unemployment benefits could complicate return to work - FOX34 Lubbock

Unemployment benefits could complicate return to work

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

The U.S unemployment rate hit 14.7 percent in April, the highest since the Great Depression, and as businesses start to reopen, employers could face some unintended consequences with unemployment benefits.

Martin Aguirre, CEO of Workforce Solutions South Plains, said the latest unemployment numbers  for Lubbock will not be available until next week, but in late March, the jobless rate for Lubbock was nearly 4 percent. He said the Texas Workforce Commission is taking more claims.

"The paradox of this is we have a lot of people that are unemployed and a lot of people that've been laid off, but we still have employers that are seeking help," Aguirre said. "We still have jobs posted that are saying, 'I need someone to do this.'"

With COVID-19 emergency payments available for unemployment, Aguirre said it is a "catch-22," because unemployment insurance is more than what some employees make working. The CARES Act, signed into law in March, expanded unemployment benefits, allowing for an extra $600 weekly payment.

"The possibility exists that you could be drawing up to $1,000 a week in unemployment, because the maximum in Texas is over $400, and you add $600 and you're at $1,000," he said.

If someone turns down their previous employer's reemployment opportunity however, Aguirre said they open themselves to a claim that they are not available for work.

"Not available for work doesn't get unemployment, so you could actually put yourself in a position of having cut yourself off from the unemployment rolls," he said.

Although it will take some time for businesses to recover, he said many people are also discovering different ways of doing business.

"One of the things that this COVID-19 crisis has taught us, even taught me looking at our business, is that we don't have to do the same thing again that we were doing before," he said. "We've found better efficiencies...virtual services."

Many employers are still looking for help during this time, Aguirre said, especially for human services. To learn more about Workforce Solutions or see potential job opportunities, click here.

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