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Louisiana residents unemployed due to coronavirus will have to start looking for work to keep their benefits

“It seems a little tone deaf. And by 'a little,' I mean a lot tone deaf."

NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Workforce Commission makes it clear in a new video: Many people will have to start looking for work to keep their unemployment payments coming.

For those like Trey Monaghan who are out of work, he's not sure this is the right time for the state to bring back that requirement. 

“It seems a little tone deaf. And by 'a little,' I mean a lot tone deaf,” he said.

Monaghan manages Molly's at the Market. The Decatur Street bar has been closed for months now, and he's been out of a job since he locked the doors.

He's not alone.

“There are close to 95,000 people who work in the hospitality industry in New Orleans,” he said, estimating that half of them are probably out of work.

Statewide, there are 450,000 people out of work right now. 

Ava Dejoie, secretary of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, said she understands the anxiety of those in New Orleans, especially in the service industry.

“I'm from New Orleans,” she said. “I certainly understand musicians, bar tenders, hotel workers.”

The state Workforce Commission waived the requirement for three job searches a week when the COVID-19 outbreak began. 

Dejoie said the loss of the extra $600 in federal unemployment makes now the time to try to start to connect employers with potential employees.

“Work search is just that: work search. It is contacting an employer to see if you have a fit with them,” she said.

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The Workforce Commission said not everyone will have to search for work, including people who are furloughed and have a return-to-work date. Dejoie said you must log into your Workforce Commission account to see if you are required to do a search and submit proof.

She said those who need to look for work can do so on their own or search through her agency and that no one will be penalized if they prove they are searching for work but have not landed a job.Dejoie said there are jobs available in many different industries listed on the Workforce Commission's website, including state government, restaurants, banking, the U.S. Census, transportation and retail.

“We have a relationship with those employers,” she said. “Ochsner has 567 jobs open in the New Orleans region alone, and that's across all facets of operations.”

“If I could be the CEO of Ochsner I'd love that guy's job or that girl's job,” Monaghan said, noting that he has a degree in business. “I'm going to put in my application. But I've got a hospitality background. I don't think they want me.” 

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