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Bill Questions Assumption Full-Time Student Can’t Work

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 By Doug RamseyContact
April 12, 2010

PHOENIX - The state could no longer automatically disqualify full-time students from getting unemployment checks, under a bill awaiting a vote in the Arizona House. Currently, students with a full load of classes are presumed to be unavailable for work, and must file a special appeal to continue receiving benefits.

State AFL-CIO executive director Rebekah Friend says there is plenty of opportunity to look for a job while going to school.

"The way schools are structured now, with so much on-line and off-campus and varying hours, it's not a regular day that precludes you from looking for work, and that's the definition."

Friend says availability and willingness to work should determine whether a laid-off worker can keep getting checks. Business leaders oppose the change, saying it could flood the unemployment system with applicants.

Friend says the bill wouldn't apply to all students, only those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

"It's not 'Let's go to college and collect unemployment.' You have to meet all the standards that any unemployed worker would meet, with your quarterly earnings, etc., etc. All the same guidelines would apply to a student."

Friend says the state should make it as easy as possible for laid-off workers to get retrained, especially those whose jobs have been eliminated by declining industries or have been shipped overseas.

"It's a good idea to retrain and retool any time you're in that kind of situation, where the industry you are in is shrinking and you still have a long work life ahead of you."

There are no official estimates of how many people the bill would affect.

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