New Jersey’s Worker-centered Approach to Improving the Administration of Unemployment Insurance

September 7, 2023

Unemployment Insurance (UI) is one of the most important social benefits and worker protections in the U.S. economy. The economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated both the reward of getting earned benefits to jobless people during an emergency and the price of systemic shortcomings and failure.

A new paper from the Heldrich Center describes the policy changes, business practices, and technology innovations that the State of New Jersey is employing to ensure that the right people get UI benefits accurately and on time. The paper also describes the political and policy reasons for why New Jersey consistently performs among the top states in benefits access and wage replacement.

The paper was written by Michele Evermore, a leading national expert on UI. Michele is a Senior Fellow at the Century Foundation and a Visiting Non-resident Scholar at the Heldrich Center. The Families and Workers Fund provided funding to support this research.

Upcoming Related Events

The Time Tax: Better Access to Benefits by Reducing Administrative Burden
September 14, 2023 – 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. (online event) 

Burdens such as excessive paperwork, difficult re-enrollment procedures, and complicated applications can prevent otherwise eligible people from obtaining the benefits they need. These types of burdens can be particularly challenging to those from underserved communities. States, practitioners, and the federal government have all turned their attention to the complex systems and “time taxes” that individuals, families, and even small businesses navigate as they try to access the programs and services that can grow the middle class. Please join a discussion with the Center for American Progress, the associate administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the White House Office of Management and Budget, and a panel of experts on best practices for reducing administrative burden and increasing access to the services and programs individuals and their families need. Michele Evermore will be participating in this event, which will feature findings from her research. Register here.

Modernizing Unemployment Benefits: A Hands-on Workshop for States
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.With the reduction in federal funding for unemployment modernization, it is more important than ever for states to adopt more cost-effective and agile ways of providing unemployment benefits. In this 90-minute virtual training with leaders from the New Jersey Office of Unemployment Modernization and the New Jersey Office of Innovation, participants will learn how New Jersey moved to an agile, human-centered approach to improving benefits, resulting in 48 minutes saved per application and an increased percentage of unemployed workers who successfully receive benefits. Participants will learn about the state’s approach to making short- and long-term modifications that enhanced performance and helped the state continue to deliver improvement despite exploding numbers of Unemployment Insurance applications during COVID-19. Join us for this interactive how-to design session designed for public officials looking to improve their unemployment or other benefit systems. Heldrich Center director and distinguished professor Carl Van Horn will be speaking at this event. 

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