The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) announced today it has been chosen by its federal partners at U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) and U.S. Digital Service (USDS), housed in the Office of the President, as a pilot state for modernization and improvement of the federal unemployment insurance system.
The goal of the Claimant Experience Pilot is to design an application system that provides equitable and timely access to unemployment benefits for eligible workers, while rooting out identity theft and other fraud issues that have bogged down state unemployment systems throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The other pilot state partner is Arkansas.
“The Department of Labor is committed to working with our federal and state partners to develop an Unemployment Insurance system that is efficient and scalable so qualified workers can access benefits when they need them most,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty J. Walsh. “Through our collaboration with U.S. Digital Service and our first state cohorts, Arkansas and New Jersey, the Department of Labor will address some of the most common challenges claimants face when accessing state UI systems.”
According to the USDOL, New Jersey was chosen to lead this national effort for several reasons: “The state consistently leads the nation in the percentage of unemployed workers who successfully receive benefits; NJDOL has established a successful working relationship with USDOL and USDS; it has received an extraordinary number of unemployment applications (2.4 million) since March of 2020; and it found innovative solutions to paying benefits during the past 21 months, a time of unprecedented demand.”
According to Gov. Phil Murphy, “The pandemic shed a light on the challenges and shortcomings of the federal unemployment system. With this announcement, New Jersey will be at the forefront of modernization, and permanent, meaningful reform. This administration and our partners in the federal government will work hand-in-hand to bring more equity, fairness, and accessibility to our workers – especially in times of unforeseen hardship.”
“No state was spared from the deluge of unemployment claims nor from the difficulties of implementing numerous new federal unemployment benefit programs created to assist workers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “Today, with resources from our federal partners at U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Digital Service, New Jersey is proud to join our counterparts in Arkansas to modernize and streamline the cumbersome unemployment system, and pilot a model modular system for the entire country.”
In the past 21 months, New Jersey has distributed more than $36 billion in COVID-related benefits to workers.
The Claimant Experience Pilot starts early next year, focused on creating a user-friendly entry to the system with an integrated identity verification component, which is now required, but is a completely separate step.
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