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Gov. Reynolds announces new requirements for unemployment benefits in face of worker shortages

An Iowa Workforce Development spokesman said unemployment payments could be frozen if jobless workers fail to meet the new criteria.

ADEL, Iowa — Unemployed Iowans would be required to meet weekly with state case managers, conduct twice as many weekly work searches and undergo audits to prove they’re actively looking for work under a new proposal announced by Gov. Kim Reynolds. 

Under the current system, unemployment recipients do not have to start the Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) process until week five. Under the new plan, one-on-one career coaching would begin the first week.

An IWD spokesman said unemployment payments could be frozen if jobless workers fail to meet the new criteria. 

More than 86,500 job openings are posted on a state workforce development website while nearly 68,000 Iowans remain unemployed. 

"Iowa is currently experiencing economic vitality that many of our other states can only envy," Reynolds said Wednesday. "Our second quarter growth rate of 7.7% continues to outpace the national average. And I'm proud to say that we ended Fiscal Year 2021 with a surplus of more than $1.2 billion and over $800 million in cash reserves."

Reynolds also said the state would spend $30 million in federal relief funds from the American Rescue Plan to provide grants to help manufacturers retain existing workers and recruit new employees. Those funds would go to small and medium-sized companies, defined as those with up to 250 employees.

"Ours is no different than a lot of organizations across the state, no different than what the governor is talking about right now, reinvesting in our people." said Tim Bianco, the CEO of Spring Manufacturing in Adel. "When we do that we become better. And when we get better, we're able to provide more for people."

You can apply for those grants at IowaGrants.gov.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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