Texas to reinstate work-search requirement for unemployment benefits

Shuttered businesses in downtown Austin during the coronavirus pandemic. Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Texans receiving unemployment benefits will once again have to prove they have searched for a job or tried to reopen their business if they want to continue receiving aid starting next month.

The Texas Workforce Commission decided Tuesday to restore its work search requirement beginning July 6.

That means when individuals request unemployment benefit payments, they will have to prove that they engaged in at least three work search activities. Self-employed workers will have prove they took at least three steps to reopen their businesses.

The move comes as Gov. Greg Abbott continues to reopen businesses during a surge in Texas coronavirus cases that has led to record numbers of hospitalizations over the past several days.

“As Texas begins to recover and Governor Greg Abbott works to reopen the Texas economy, so must the TWC take steps to facilitate this reopening,” Cisco Gamez, a TWC spokesman, said in a media briefing Tuesday afternoon.

The TWC also noted that work search is federally required for unemployment benefits, and that such benefits are intended to provide temporary relief, rather than a permanent solution, to jobless individuals.

“The work search requirement does not mean workers must take the first job available,” according to a TWC press release. “It means that they must show an active effort to obtain new employment to continue benefits. As long as they do this, their benefits will continue for up to 39 weeks, in accordance with state law and the federal CARES Act.”