May 11, 2021: Prof Williams’ recent CROWE report featured in Wisbusiness.com
— Only three in 10 Wisconsin workers who applied for unemployment insurance over the past year have been paid, according to the latest report from the conservative think tank CROWE.
In recent months that’s fallen to one in 10. The Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy also reported many of the unemployed workers who were paid endured long delays with 30 percent waiting 10 weeks or more for a UI check. These are among the lowest payment rates and longest delays in the country, the report said.
“The COVID pandemic led to mass unemployment and an expansion of benefits to aid unemployed workers, but problems in administering benefits severely limited their effectiveness,” explained CROWE Director and UW-Madison Prof. Noah Williams. “Wisconsin in particular was unable to handle the volume of claims, leading to a decline in payment rates, a vast increase in delayed payments and a deterioration in ensuring accurate payments were made.”
Gov. Tony Evers in February signed a special session bill to overhaul the UI computer system. DWD is using a $2.4 million federal grant to begin the upgrade and signed a $1.2 million contract with 18F to start the modernization process. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, called it a “step in the right direction.”
CROWE argues the state should consider more drastic measures, such as permanently outsourcing unemployment services management to a private provider.