FILE - California Unemployment Fraud

In this Sept. 20, 2013, file photo, visitors use the Unemployment Insurance phone bank at the California Employment Development Department (EDD) office in Sacramento, Calif. 

(The Center Square) – Out of work California residents will soon have to prove they're on the job hunt before receiving their weekly benefits.

California's Employment Development Department (EDD) announced that, starting July 11, unemployed residents must start verifying that they're searching for work when they apply for weekly or bi-weekly funds. 

"This requirement applies to finding suitable work that is safe to return to and is comparable to the worker's skills, experience, usual occupation, age and health," EDD said in a release Thursday. 

The agency listed what qualifies as seeking employment.

  • Prepare for Job Searches – Set up an account on CalJOBS, participate in reemployment services, post a profile on various job search or networking sites.
  • Expand Networks – Let friends, prior employers, or community members know you are looking for work. Participate in networking, job fair events or clubs. 
  • Apply for Suitable Work – Apply for positions with employers reasonably expected to have suitable openings matching skills and experience, including government jobs and exams.
  • Participate in Training – Engage in permissible education and training opportunities that assist in obtaining employment and do not interfere with an ability to accept suitable full-time work.

The requirement was in place until the state suspended it in March of last year, when the department suspended it amid the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that change, California has processed 20 million unemployment claims, sending more than $128 billion.

"When claimants were asked if they had looked for work when completing their weekly certification for benefits, they could answer 'No' and maintain their eligibility for benefits. As California reopens, most claimants will need to answer 'Yes' next month to maintain eligibility," EDD said.

The change is likely welcomed news to employers who have seen historic numbers of job openings not being filled.

EDD announced Friday the state's unemployment rate fell to 7.9% in May as the state's employers gained 104,500 non-farm payroll jobs. While the falling unemployment numbers signify a return to the workforce, California's labor force grew by only 12,400 workers last month, meaning thousands of workers are still sitting on the sidelines. 

Regional Editor

Cole Lauterbach is a regional editor for The Center Square covering Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.