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DOL Cracks Down On Fraud, Extended Unemployment

The Idaho Department of Labor is cracking down on unemployment fraud, while trying to get more people back into jobs.

In 2010, an estimated $5 million were paid out to people who worked and got unemployment at the same time.

In an effort to stop that, the department has launched a public service radio campaign and is reaching out to businesses through social media. Since 1997, businesses have been required to report new hires within 20 days, but in 2010, 70 percent of businesses failed to do that reporting.

The whole defrauding unemployment thing is pretty fishy, especially for Candace Reynolds. She’s a manager at Sumisu.

“There’s people that are working full time and not reporting and collecting I feel like they’re cheating everyone, not just the system. They’re cheating everyone around them because the prices of everything goes up and nobody can afford to live,” Reynolds said.

Even though Reynolds has a job, unemployment is still a part of her life. She can get only part time hours at the restaurant and is allowed to keep collecting. With two teenagers, she said she needs it to get by.

“I can’t imagine if I didn’t have a husband what I would be doing,” she said.

The department is also cracking down on the 300 people transitioning to federally-funded extended unemployment every week by creating a new requirement. People receiving those extended benefits have to meet with a Department of Labor consultant within three weeks, or they’ll be denied services indefinitely. The maximum period for extended benefits has also decreased from 73 to 44 weeks. Department of Labor Regional Economist Dan Cravens said it’s a requirement, but a positive step.

“This is to help these folks who have been out of work for some time and kind of jump start their job search,” Cravens said.

Cravens said he hopes that by meeting with a consultant, unemployed people can learn how to make themselves and their resumes stand out.

When it comes to not reporting new hires, he said businesses are just hurting themselves because they fund unemployment insurance. Paying for double-dipping employees causes their tax rates to go up, he said.

“Ultimately, regardless of what your rate is, you pay more if people are receiving benefits that shouldn’t be receiving benefits,” Cravens said.

The Pocatello Department of Labor office is hosting upcoming resume and interviewing workshops. People can attend on April 12 and 26 and May 10 and 24 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The office is located at 430 North 5th Avenue.

Cravens said that other local offices will be hosting similar workshops.

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