January 9, 2019

Shutdown spurs state rule change on unemployment for federal employees

After a little more than a week in his new job, New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions Secretary-designate Bill McCamley made a major, albeit temporary, rule change for federal employees seeking unemployment benefits because of the ongoing federal government shutdown.

McCamley announced Wednesday that he is temporarily waiving a federally mandated work requirement to receive state unemployment benefits.

“If you file for unemployment, by federal law, you’re supposed to show that you were looking for two jobs a week, and if you get a job and you turn it down, you lose unemployment,” McCamley told NM Political Report on Wednesday evening. “That’s really crappy for an air traffic controller who’s still working and not getting paid.”

Thousands of New Mexicans are either working without pay or have been furloughed.

In a YouTube video, McCamley outlined some specifics of the rule change, which could last for 180 days if necessary. McCamley said there is still a week-long waiting period between when a person applies for unemployment benefits and when they receive them. Once their federal paychecks resume, applicants will need to return the unemployment benefits to the state of New Mexico.

If the shutdown does not end by Saturday, it would mark the longest U.S. government shutdown in history and the first missed paycheck for employees since the current shutdown began.