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Thousands of KY jobs remain unfilled as unemployment work search requirements resume

WLKY Louisville logo WLKY Louisville 5/11/2021
work force requirements resume © Provided by WLKY Louisville work force requirements resume

Kentuckians seeking unemployment must now prove they are actively searching for a job to continue receiving benefits, and that comes as employers themselves are dealing with workforce shortages.

The requirement was lifted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Gov. Andy Beshear announced in April that it would resume beginning May 9.

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When the pandemic hit last year more than 300,000 Kentuckians lost their jobs, according to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Vice president of workforce development Beth Davisson says those jobs are now coming back.

Related: Kentuckians receiving unemployment benefits have to start searching for jobs again

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce launched its "Who's Hiring" site last March to help people looking to find work during the pandemic, but now it's helping employers who are desperate to find workers.

"I think in just the last day we've seen 1,000 positions get posted and there's 100,000 open jobs on that website right now," Davisson said.

According to Davisson, the chamber supports the move to reinstate the work search requirement and hopes it will lead to some of the open positions being filled.

"We work with the Workforce Cabinet in Frankfort to really get those positions in front of individuals that are receiving those UI benefits," Davisson said.

Dr. Thomas Lambert, professor of economics at the University of Louisville, says the work search requirement may not be enough to get everyone on unemployment back to work.


Video: Work search requirements return as KY finds ways to help business owners (WLKY Louisville)

"The research mostly shows that a lot of people who are receiving unemployment benefits don't find work until the unemployment benefits are almost exhausted," Lambert said.

According to Lambert, the law is written that allows those seeking employment to turn down certain jobs.

"You have the right to decline a job that pays below what you made before," Lambert says.

Some employers are taking steps to address that issue.

"We are seeing businesses increasing pay and really fighting. It's a war for talent. I mean without a doubt it is a job-seekers market," Davisson said.

The United States Postal Service is looking to hire 30 city carrier assistants in Louisville. They're offering a new starting rate of $18.01 an hour with a $0.50 increase coming in June. USPS communications manager Susan Wright said they are targeting long-term employees.

"City carrier assistants, which is what we are hiring right now, are eligible to become career employees in 24 months or less," Wright said.

The position offers six paid holidays, medical benefits, and paid vacation.

"It's a good what we call pre-career position, but we are interested in people who are looking for a career with the postal service," Wright said.

Lambert says if these open positions don't get filled soon we could see more businesses cutting hours and disruptions in the supply chain.

"We are seeing already businesses hours and not opening on Mondays or Tuesdays and it's all a result of the workforce," Davisson said.

Employers can post open positions on the chamber's "Who's Hiring" page by clicking here.

READ THE FULL STORY:Thousands of KY jobs remain unfilled as unemployment work search requirements resume

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