In 2018, the average weekly unemployment benefit paid to Iowa workers was $385.19. (useche70/Pixabay)

A Drug Test to Get Unemployment Benefits?

By: Roz Brown, Public News Service

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Trump administration has approved a new regulation allowing states to include drug testing as a condition for anyone receiving unemployment benefits.

Generally, workers can collect unemployment if they’ve lost their jobs by no fault of their own and meet other eligibility criteria.

Michele Evermore, senior researcher and policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, said the low unemployment rate means businesses already are paying less in unemployment benefits. She called the regulation “an expensive solution in search of a problem.

“I think at the end of the day, what this rule is about is just making it harder to get benefits,” she said, “and it’s a not-so-subtle attack on the character of unemployed workers – who, by definition, are involuntarily unemployed.”

If the economy cools down in states that implement drug testing, Evermore said, a local businesses could suffer because every dollar spent during the height of a recession generates $1.60 in economic activity.

Iowa is one of eight states that doesn’t require a waiting period for unemployed workers to qualify for benefits, although the legislation was introduced last session to try to overturn that.

With more states decriminalizing marijuana, opponents of the new regulation fear fewer workers may apply for jobs that require drug screening. Evermore said states that adopt the drug-testing requirement could create unnecessary hurdles for people who’ve lost their jobs.

“I don’t really get the sense that people are that overly concerned that somebody might have some marijuana and then get an unemployment check,” she said. “I honestly don’t think that that’s a public-interest concern that very many people share.”

Iowa’s attempt to make workers wait to collect unemployment was one of nearly 170 laws introduced in multiple states this year to alter unemployment benefits.

The new regulation comes at a time when more Iowans than ever are working; the state’s unemployment rate of 2.5% is among the lowest in the nation. Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin had enacted drug-testing laws that were put on hold while the regulation was pending.


The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at davidhiggins@southernmarylandchronicle.com

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II




© 2019 The Southern Maryland Chronicle. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.