Gov. Doug Burgum today signed an executive order restoring the work registration and search requirements for individuals seeking unemployment benefits, effective July 26.
The requirements were suspended March 13 in order to expand unemployment eligibility amid business closures during the COVID-19 crisis. Under Executive Order 2020-08.2 signed today, all individuals seeking unemployment – including those whose unemployment is related to COVID-19 – must register for work and conduct an active work search as required by state statute.
“As we work toward economic recovery and restoring consumer confidence in North Dakota, restoring a strong workforce is another important part of saving livelihoods,” Burgum said. “The suspension of registration and work search requirements was always meant to be temporary. Reintroduction of these requirements will assist employees and employers to return to work and continue a North Dakota Smart Restart. Job Service North Dakota will continue working with individuals receiving benefits on a case-by-case basis to make sure they receive the assistance they need and that we are protecting the lives and livelihoods of all.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Job Service North Dakota has received an unprecedented number of unemployment insurance claims. In total, 97,178 regular unemployment claims have been filed by North Dakota workers. An additional 19,689 North Dakota workers have filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and 20,218 have filed for Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation (PUEC). Nearly $568 million in benefit payments have been made since March 15.
Though claims filings remain more than four times higher than normal, filings are down significantly from the peak filing week of March 29. More importantly, certifications are down 20 percent since the week of May 3, which directly correlates with individuals returning to employment, Burgum noted.
With work searches once again required, if an individual receiving unemployment benefits refuses a suitable job offer, he or she becomes ineligible to receive further unemployment benefits until becoming re-employed and earning sufficient wages to requalify for benefits.
Job Service North Dakota has adapted over the years by encouraging internet job searches along with networking and social media. These options remain available and are considered suitable work searches for unemployment purposes.
Registration for employment can be completed online, and all local Job Service offices will be open by July 26 to assist those who need help completing registration.