Job 'Seekers' Seek Unemployment, Not Jobs
POSTED: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 6:57pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 4:02pm
EL PASO- Labor experts say jobs are out there, so why aren't the jobless grabbing them?
With national unemployment at 8.6 percent and the local jobless rate at 10.4, local staffing agencies are facing an unusual dilemma.
RMPersonnel Inc., a staffing agency in east El Paso says it offers jobs to people all the time, and they fear people are rejecting job offers simply to hold onto their unemployment benefits. This is something the Texas Workforce Commission says is not allowed.
More than 3 million jobs are open in The United States, and yet millions of Americans without a job receive unemployment benefits.
Amber Vargas is the Human Resource Manager at RMPersonnel Inc. She says most people think it’s tough to land a job, but she challenges people who need work to step up their game.
"I think that in today's day and age, the work ethic is not where it used to be. There is still a lot of 'me' attitude out there. You owe me a job for sitting around and doing nothing. You need to pay me just because I'm here,” said Vargas.
Vargas says that ‘me' attitude is preventing job applicants from accepting open positions.
She fears that out of all the people they offer jobs to and turn them down, around 50 percent of those people turned the job down simply so they can continue to receive their unemployment benefits.
"Right now because of the economy, everybody is out for such a long period of time and right now some of the jobs that were out there have gone down, especially with construction slowing down. It's probably about 50-50 that want to stay on unemployment,” said Vargas.
Job seeker Daniel Fitzpatrick has a Master’s Degree from UTEP. He says he doesn't receive any unemployment benefits, and is happy to accept any job he can get.
"Make looking for work our job, and so we come to the unemployment office. We try to stay here 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” said Fitzpatrick.
Texas Workforce Commission spokesperson Lisa Givens says unemployment rules state anyone receiving unemployment benefits cannot turn down a job offer.
"We take into account physical fitness, the ability to perform the work as well as the distance from their home, their prior training and experience,” said Givens.
Givens says if a staffing agency offers somebody a job and the applicant still turns the job down, the agency can report that person to The Texas Workforce Commission, but Vargas says it's difficult to know if someone who turns down a job is receiving unemployment.
"We don't know which of the employees are actually out on unemployment, unless they are our employees. We don't know. They don't wear a sign that says, ‘hey I'm on unemployment.’ We don't ask them that. That's not a relevant question,” said Vargas.
Givens says it's The Workforce Commission's goal to reintroduce the unemployed to the working world.
"The important thing with regards to unemployment is that statistics generally show that the longer somebody is out of the workforce, the harder it is to reattach to the workforce,” said Givens.
On a brighter note, the number of jobs available nationwide is 35 percent higher than where the labor job market stood just two years ago.