WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, announced her co-sponsorship of the Unemployment Insurance Technology Modernization Act, legislation that would establish one set of technology and security capabilities for state unemployment offices.
“Outdated technology systems continue to plague the delivery of timely unemployment assistance to the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. This is especially true in Nevada, which as a result of this pandemic, has had to endure one of the highest unemployment rates in the country,” said Senator Rosen. “I’m co-sponsoring this legislation to give states like Nevada resources to modernize their unemployment insurance technology systems. By doing so, we can get benefits to workers faster and ensure that families get the help they need.”
BACKGROUND: According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) during the first month of the pandemic roughly 21.5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. However, researchers said the number should have been much higher, estimating that as many as 12 million people did not apply for jobless aid because they faced difficulties in obtaining it.
More specifically, the Unemployment Insurance Technology Modernization Act would:
- Appropriate $500 million to create a federal system that states can use to administer unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, rather than investing in each state UI’s system separately
- Require the Department of Labor (DOL) to develop and maintain a modular set of technology capabilities to modernize UI technology for states to utilize
- Require consultation and testing with claimants, employers, State workforce agency staff, and others
- Require a study to evaluate UI technology needs with an emphasis on areas of accessibility and equity
- Establish a new team at DOL to assist states with technological issues
- Ensure best practices in cybersecurity, procurement, and transparency in developing and administering the new technology capabilities
- Include accessibility requirements for online claim-filing systems and includes provisions to help prevent bias in automated decision systems
The Unemployment Insurance Technology Modernization Act is endorsed by the National Employment Law Project (NELP).
In May, Senator Rosen and then-Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) led 11 of their Senate colleagues in a letter to Senate Leadership urging them to include additional funding for state unemployment agencies to upgrade their IT systems and increase hiring in future coronavirus-related legislation, with the goal of getting unemployment support to Americans faster.