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February 29, 2024

Recalling Pandemic Lessons on “Self-Certifying” Eligibility

Sometimes what is left unmentioned can be far more important than what is said. A good example is obscure guidance issued last week by the US Department of Labor (DOL) encouraging workforce programs to allow beneficiaries to self-certify their eligibility. That guidance directly affects a handful of programs with limited funding that offer a variety of employment-related…

November 20, 2023

The Next Time States Are “Swimming in Money” Make Them Repay Their Federal Loans

The pandemic was full of firsts, including the first time states received hundreds of billions of federal dollars they could use to shore up their depleted state unemployment insurance (UI) programs. The March 2020 CARES Act provided $150 billion in a flexible “Coronavirus Relief Fund,” whose potential uses included covering states’ “unemployment insurance costs.” Then the March 2021 American…

September 29, 2023

Solutions to Reduce Government Improper Payments Involving Unemployment Benefits

OverviewThe coronavirus pandemic tested the nation’s unemployment benefits system more than any prior recession. Not only did far more individuals file claims for weekly benefits than ever before, but lockdowns and mass layoffs concentrated those record claims starting in March 2020, creating an unprecedented surge in demand for benefits that quickly rose to an apparent…

September 23, 2023

Did Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Increase Unemployment? Evidence from Early State-level Expirations

Abstract During the 2021 pandemic year, the generosity of Unemployment Insurance benefits was expanded (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation [FPUC]) and eligibility for benefits was broadened (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance [PUA]). These two programs were set to expire in September 2021. In June 2021, 18 states exited both FPUC and PUA and three states exited FPUC (but…

September 5, 2023

Audit Finds California Continues to Mismanage Unemployment Benefits

A scathing report released by the California State Auditor on August 24 finds that the state’s Economic Development Department (EDD) continues to mismanage the unemployment insurance (UI) program, resulting in “a substantial risk of serious detriment to the State and its residents.” The California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, which oversees EDD, was formerly led by Julie…

September 1, 2023

Despite Staggering Improper Payments, New Labor Department Report Calls for Reviving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

As America prepares to celebrate Labor Day, it’s timely to wonder what the US Department of Labor (DOL) has been up to. One noteworthy recent action was DOL’s August 21 release of a report on improper payments made by the troubled Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. PUA was a temporary federal program in 2020 and 2021, which…

August 23, 2023

Labor Department Report Finds Pandemic Unemployment Program Had a Staggering 36 Percent Improper Payment Rate

On August 21, the US Department of Labor (DOL) released its long-awaited “improper payment report” on the troubled Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. PUA was an unprecedented federal unemployment benefit program that operated from early 2020 through September 2021. Prior reports from the DOL Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office suggested that PUA was subject to historic, but previously unconfirmed, levels…

August 14, 2023

Tracking Plans to Make Pandemic Benefit Expansions Permanent

In 2008, former White House Chief of Staff and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel famously said what has come to be known as Rahm’s rule: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that [is] it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” It’s clear that…

May 11, 2023

The House Acts to Recover More Pandemic Unemployment Fraud

FacebookTwitterLinkedIn This week, the House is considering Republican-authored legislation (H.R. 1163, the Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act) designed to promote more recovery of fraudulent unemployment checks paid during the pandemic, among other purposes. That’s long overdue, since little of potentially $400 billion in such misspending—including an estimated $60 billion or more in fraud, according to the Government Accountability Office—has…