Business Briefcase: Jobless benefits linked to searches

Business Briefcase: Jobless benefits linked to searches

August 26th, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Diary

Jobless benefits linked to searches

More than 50,000 unemployed Tennesseans will be mailed letters this week notifying them of new requirements to search for work if they want to receive jobless benefits.

Under the new Unemployment Insurance Accountability Act of 2012, unemployed workers in Tennessee must maintain a work search log and prove they have searched for at least three jobs every week, starting in September, to receive unemployment insurance benefits. Failure to comply with the new law will result in a loss of benefits.

"The Accountability Act is aptly named as it raises the bar of accountability for those receiving unemployment benefits," Tennessee Labor Commissioner Karla Davis said. "Documenting three work searches each week will require a small effort, but the consequences of not doing them are very serious."

The state agency will conduct random audits of 1,000 claimants' work search documentation each week to verify work search activity. If work search claims are found to be fraudulent, the department will stop a claimant's benefits immediately and can suspend payments for eight weeks.

Those unemployed for more than six months have already had to prove they searched for at least two jobs a week since new federal rules took effect in January. Jeff Hentschel, communications director for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said about 25 percent of those getting the extended federal jobless benefits failed to meet the job search requirements and have been dropped from the unemployment insurance program.

A valid work search activity is considered any of the following:

• Registering at and applying for jobs online

• Completing a job application in person or online

• Mailing a job application or resume, as instructed in a public notice

• Making in-person visits with employers who may have job openings

• Registering for work with private employment agencies, placement services or hiring unions

• Using the employment resources available at Tennessee Career Centers that may lead directly to a job

• Attending job search seminars, career networking meetings, job fairs or employment-related workshops that offer instruction in improving individual skills for obtaining employment.

Bechtel pays fine over radioactivity

The federal government and a U.S. Department of Energy contractor have reached a $230,000 settlement over allegations that the company improperly handled and disposed of radioactive waste from a nuclear reprocessing plant in western Kentucky.

The settlement, unsealed last week in U.S. District Court in Paducah, Ky., does not require Bechtel Jacobs to admit fault related to the improper disposals from 1998 through 2004.

The settlement ends a 10-year legal battle started by two former employees at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant on behalf of the federal government. The employees sued in 2002, claiming Bechtel Jacobs mishandled waste from the plant over a six year period.

The plant produces enriched uranium for use at nuclear power plants, including reactors owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Job fair set for jail guards

The Georgia Department of Labor will conduct a recruitment fair from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday to help Hays State Prison fill about 60 jobs.

The state jail in Chattooga County is seeking applicants for prison guard positions with a starting salary of $25,538, plus as much as 10 percent more for those with prior military service. Applicants for the prison jobs must be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a General Education Diploma.

The recruitment fair will be head at the prison's training building at 777 Underwood St., across the street from the Wal-Mart store, in Trion.

Applicants are encouraged to bring to the recruitment a driver's license, U.S. Social Security Card, birth certificate, Department of Defense, Selective Service Card, and their high school diploma or GED, along with COMPASS or ASSET test scores.

Additional information about the recruitment is available from Cathy Toles at the LaFayette Career Center at 706-638-5525, or e-mail

1.5 million visit Smokies in July

Visits to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park continue to outpace those of last year.

The National Park Service said nearly 1.5 million people came into the park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border last month. That was a 4.5 percent increase over July 2011 visitation.

Year to date, visits to the Smokies are up 9.6 percent over the first seven months of last year. They are also 3.4 percent ahead of the five-year average for the same period.

In a typical year, July is the month that sees the highest number of visitors.