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VIEW FROM AROUND THE STATE: Now’s not the time to increase unemployment benefits

Throughout the state, “Help Wanted” signs can be found everywhere. There are jobs in construction, manufacturing, health care, hospitality, criminal justice, child care, retail — you name it, they are hiring.

But for some reason, Gov. Tony Evers is proposing to increase the maximum weekly rate for unemployment benefits.

Specifically, he’s using the state budget to call for increasing the maximum amount a person can receive from $370 a week to $406 a week.

A spokesman for the state Department of Workforce Development, which runs the program, said in a statement to the Wisconsin State Journal that Wisconsin’s jobless-benefit rate is less than what’s offered in most states and, even with Evers’ proposed increase, the state’s benefit rate would remain below the national average.

The department “believes that individuals who lose work through no fault of their own shouldn’t have to worry about paying their bills,” said Ben Jedd, a spokesman for the department.

Meanwhile, right now, there are dozens of places offering on-the-spot interviews.

Instead of increasing unemployment benefits, now is the time to offer additional training opportunities and take further steps to make sure our state remains in the vanguard with its career-readiness policies.

Officials in the city of Racine and Racine County and at the Racine Unified School District are doing a commendable job preparing workers.

At the school level, Unified has developed programs to prepare students for not just graduation but also a career. The programs give students a chance to adopt specialties, as well as obtain college credits and certifications, meaning they could start on a job right away.

At the city and county level, the First Choice Pre-Apprenticeship Program continues to work to train worker. In addition, Gateway Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside are constantly working to meet the ever-changing needs of local residents.

The state doesn’t need to increase the benefits for those who are unemployed. The state needs to continue initiatives to get those workers back to work.

– The Journal Times of Racine

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