DES MOINES, Iowa — Reductions in unemployment benefits in Iowa could ultimately hurt both employers and businesses, Project Iowa Executive Director Julie Fugenschuh believes. Iowa Republicans, both in the house and the senate, agreed to reduce the number of weeks the unemployed are eligible to receive benefits from 26 to 16 weeks.

That would be the fourth fewest number of weeks of any state in the United States, according to The Center of Budget and Policy Priorities.

The changes could also force the unemployed to accept a lower-paying job quickly rather than searching for a job that pays at least as well as the former position.

Fugenschuh said that her non-profit, career training and upskilling center, focuses on “how to stay at a job and how to grow in a job.” She is concerned that reducing benefits for unemployed Iowans–who may already be in a vulnerable economic and psychological situation since they lost their job–will force them to accept any job, rather than one that could be financially and professionally able to meet their needs.

And that could lead workers to jump from job to job, further exacerbating the “Great Reshuffle,” which has transformed and strained the job market since COVID-19 struck. Millions of Americans voluntarily left their jobs to find others that offered better pay, more flexible hours or the ability to work remotely.

“We want that loyalty, that growth, both from the employee and the employer and we want longevity,” said Fugenschuh, who isn’t sure how cutting unemployment benefits will achieve those stated goals that her organization has.

Governor Kim Reynolds hasn’t signed the unemployment benefits cuts into law yet. But after the legislature passed the bill, she released a statement about the change:

“I’ve worked tirelessly to find ways to reinvigorate our workforce and make it more attractive for recruitment and retention of workers. With more than 85,000 job openings in our state, we cannot afford to leave any employable Iowans on the sidelines.” 

Governor Kim Reynolds, April 26th

Iowa has been one of the slowest growing states in terms of population over the past century and has struggled to regain jobs lost since the COVID-19 pandemic struck two years ago.