The Department of Labor (DoL) has created a new office to modernize and reform the unemployment benefits system to make it easier for residents, states, and federal partners.
The Office of Unemployment Insurance Modernization (OUIM) will develop and support the implementation of a new system designed to reduce fraud, reduce backlogs, and address inequalities in the system.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the unemployment insurance system helped more than 50 million Americans collect almost $800 billion in payments. However, the pandemic also exposed challenges within the systems that allowed fraudsters to manipulate it.
Because unemployment insurance is handled at the state level, the OUIM will work with states to implement better fraud protection technology and updated technology to enable states to process claims faster.
President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan has allocated $2 billion to combat fraud, racial inequities and ensure the timely payment of benefits. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh announced in a release that Yvette Meftah would lead the OIUMs modernization efforts, and Michele Evermore will serve as the OIUM’s deputy director for policy.
More than 8 million (8.9) Americans lost their COVID unemployment benefits Monday, including the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit. Biden has encouraged states to continue paying out benefits, but no states have pledged to do so. Twenty-five states ended the benefits early to push residents back to work, but according to a study, the cancellation of benefits has not led to significant job growth.
The cancellation of unemployment benefits comes as the delta variant of COVID-19 continues to lead to a rise in cases and deaths, and schools across the country prepare to return to in-person classes.
The cancellation of benefits will affect parents and families staying home due to a lack of safe childcare options the most. Millions who have been cut off from benefits will now have to decide whether to eat through their savings (if they have any) to protect themselves and their children or rejoin the workforce and send their kids back into school.
According to USA Today, the return to in-person learning is not going well. More than 1,000 schools in 35 states have been closed due to COVID-19un outbreaks.