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Lawmakers vote to lift emergency unemployment rule

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(WAOW) -- Like many business owners during the pandemic, Tyler Vogt of Malarkey's Pub experienced some difficulty keeping his business fully staffed.

"Honestly there was a period of time when we were having a little trouble maintaining all the hours we wanted to," he said.

Vogt says some of the emergency unemployment provisions allowed his workers to stay on, even if they were part time.

"They were able to supplement their income and maintain their employment with that bill," he said.

With the pandemic situation beginning to improve, lawmakers say it's time to get employees back in the work force by reinstating the "work-search" requirement for those receiving unemployment to prove they're actively looking for work.

In a committee meeting Wednesday, they voted 6-4 to do so.

"I don't see us doing anything besides basically saying go out there and look for some opportunities. That's all we're doing," said Representative John Spiros, R-Marshfield.

Area staffing experts say the opportunities are out there, and if this gives people the incentive to start looking, it's a good time to do so.

"Start moving on it right now, because now is a good time to get in there before there is an influx of candidates coming in," said Jill Seetan, branch manager at SEEK Careers in Wausau.

During a visit to Wausau Wednesday, Governor Tony Evers said he wasn't sure this would solve the problem.

"If you look at our unemployment rate right now, it's the same as it was before the pandemic. So I'm not sure it's the answer to the question," he said.

Vogt said while his business is now fully staffed, other businesses need the workers to start applying again.

"The idea that you should be looking for work, at least part time somewhere, there's so much labor shortage around, those sound like great ideas," he said.

The decision now goes to the Assembly and Senate.

Natalie Sopyla

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