EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ When it comes to Rhode Islanders who are dragging their feet looking for a new job post-pandemic, R.I. Department of Labor and Training (DLT) Director Matt Weldon says now is the time to look for a job.
As it stands now, 70% of Rhode Islanders receiving unemployment benefits will likely lose them come September.
“There’s going to be a great deal of people, probably in the tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders, that if they’re not reconnected to the economy by the beginning of September, they will find themselves without benefits,” Weldon said during his bi-weekly interview on 12 News Now at 4.
Watch the full interview in the video above.
“Those are the people I’m trying to get to right now to let them know the time is now to look for work. The time is now to get reconnected to the economy. It’s imperative that it happens now,” he continued.
Since Rhode Island reinstated its work-search requirement for those receiving unemployment benefits, Weldon said he’s hopeful everyone who currently doesn’t have one should be looking for a job.
He said Monday was the deadline for Rhode Islanders who received a work-search audit request to respond.
“Unfortunately, only about half of them responded,” he said, adding that those who didn’t respond would go through an adjudication process.
“We will speak with them and ask them what happened,” Weldon said. “It’s really a ‘denied until you comply situation,’ so once they can show they’re back in compliance they can get back into the system.”
“I hope people are taking it seriously, I hope they respond … they need to know it’s a real issue, it’s not punitive and we’re trying to help them get back to work,” he added.
When asked whether the state’s incentives for unemployed residents are working, Weldon said absolutely, adding that right now 2,026 people have been able to “work, earn more money and keep more of that money.”
“So we are getting people back to work,” he said. “Our approach was to allow them to get back to work while knowing they had the support of the local system and the federal benefit, and it’s working.”
Other than the financial incentives, Weldon encouraged those who are actively looking for a job to reach out to the DLT through the Back To Work RI website.
“Right now, it’s our job to make sure people know that this is a serious time to get back to work,” Weldon said. “The reality is, we need to come together and we need to provide the service employers need so they can get the people they need.”