Arizona Republicans have hit on a way to make life worse for unemployed people. Currently, to collect unemployment insurance, people have to be looking for work and to accept â€śsuitableâ€ť work if itâ€™s offered. Under a new law, scratch that â€śsuitableâ€ť part. People will have to acceptÂ any job theyâ€™re offeredÂ as long as it pays more than 20 percent more than their unemployment checkâ€”which means any job paying $288 a week or more.
You could be an engineerÂ or a graphic designer or a skilled carpenter, but if McDonaldâ€™s or Walmart says theyâ€™ll have you, you have to take it or lose your benefits. Forget about looking for a job in your field that will pay you a living wage. You also donâ€™t get to consider whatâ€™s suitable in terms of theÂ â€śrisk involved to the individualâ€™s health, safety and morals.â€ť
[Republican Gov. Doug Duceyâ€™s] press aide Daniel Scarpinato called it â€ścommon-sense reform.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s a job that the individualâ€™s been offered, and it pays,â€ť he noted, adding that Ducey supports the idea of people finding employment â€śwho are getting off of benefits and finding value in work.â€ť
Bear in mind that people donâ€™t get unemployment insurance automatically: anyone collecting unemployment in Arizona was laid off or fired for reasons that werenâ€™t their fault. No one just walked off the job to collect that sweet $240-a-week check. No one was fired for dealing drugs at work.
These are people who had jobs within the last few months and lost them without doing anything wrong. To keep getting UI, they are spending four days a week looking for work. They should be the poster children for the Republican obsession with the value of work. But instead, theyâ€™re being devalued and treated as shirkers whose professional skills do not matterâ€”because in fact, Republicans just hate anyone whoâ€™s struggling. And theyâ€™d rather sentence people to low-wage jobs that donâ€™t make use of their specific skills than pay for a few extra weeks or months of unemployment insurance to make sure that peopleâ€™s skills are maximized in the economy.
This blog was originally published at DailyKos on May 17, 2018. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura ClawsonÂ is labor editor at DailyKos.