Unpacking Unemployment: Updates You Should Know
By Meghan O'Meara
Unemployment rates are always a concern for both national and state legislatures, however, those concerns reached new heights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Iowa, like much of the nation, saw a significant increase in unemployment rates. While still lower than the national average of 11.1%, Iowa’s average unemployment rate reached 7.1% in June 2020 according to Iowa Workforce Development.
While Iowa unemployment rates have since decreased to an average of 2.7% as of May 2022, the Iowa state legislature clearly felt the strain of COVID-19. In response to prolonged unemployment which burdened state resources, the Iowa House and Senate passed House File 2355 in February 2022, a bill which included provisions to decrease unemployment benefits. This bill was signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds in June 2022.
The new law will affect all claims filed on or after July 3, 2022. Some notable changes enacted by the recently signed bill will include a 10 week decrease in unemployment benefits, from 26 weeks to 16 weeks, and require claimants to accept lower-paying jobs more quickly. The previous law did not require workers to accept less pay for a job until after their fifth week of unemployment, while the new law will reduce that time period to one week. This is because there are new requirements for what the state calls, “suitable work”. As of July 3, 2022, a job will be considered “suitable”, and thus should be accepted by the unemployed person or they could lose their unemployment benefits, if the wages are offered at the following percentages and fall into the specified time period:
Living through the COVID pandemic the last few years has led to many shifts in the law, with unemployment law being especially impacted. If you have questions about recent changes in your employment status or wish to know more about the changes in Iowa’s unemployment law and how it may affect you, please contact an attorney in your area.
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