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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Unemployed workers in Iowa will be eligible to receive state unemployment benefits for 10 fewer weeks under legislation signed into law Thursday by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
The new law reduces the length of state unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 16. Iowa becomes just the fourth state with 16 weeks or fewer of state unemployment benefits.
It was one of three workforce-related bills that Reynolds signed into law Thursday. Reynolds in a news release said the new laws “modernize” Iowa’s unemployment system and will attract new workers to Iowa businesses.
“It’s no secret that Iowa, like the rest of the country, is facing a critical workforce shortage. But we cannot stand idle and allow employable Iowans to sit on the sidelines and we must implement practical and efficient changes that cut through bureaucratic red tape and assist employers with filling their critical vacancies,” Reynolds said in the news release. “I’m confident these changes will encourage more Iowans to join the workforce and find a rewarding career while contributing to our economy.”
The new law also changes the requirements for taking a job that pays less than the unemployed Iowan’s previous job.
Previously, a person receiving unemployment benefits had six weeks before having to accept a lower-paying job. The new law shortens that time frame. After one week, a person on unemployment will have to accept a job offering 90 percent of that person’s previous wages. That threshold would drop to 80 percent after three weeks, 75 percent after five weeks, and 60 percent after eight weeks.
The progressive advocacy group Progress Iowa issued a statement Thursday critical of the reduction in unemployment benefits, saying it will hurt laid-off workers, suppress wages and make Iowa an unwelcoming state.
“As Iowans, we value hard work and know good paying jobs help Iowa grow. But now, Iowa Republicans are doing all they can to force workers to take jobs that don’t pay enough,” Progress Iowa executive director Matt Sinovic said in a news release. “We know that taking away our hard-earned benefits won’t solve the Reynolds workforce crisis. We need our lawmakers to invest in working families and make corporations pay what they owe.”
Child care workers
Reynolds on Thursday also signed into law legislation that allows 16- and 17-year-olds to work unsupervised at child care centers.
The new law also allows child care centers to operate with one worker for every seven 2-year-olds and one worker for every 10 3-year-olds.
Supporters of the new law have said it will help with shortages of staffing and available slots at child care centers.
Critics have said it does not go far enough to properly address those issues, and note that it does not contain any provision that would help address child care workers’ low wages or funding designed to entice the creation of more child care centers.
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