Eighteen states, including Wisconsin, receive funds to modernize unemployment insurance systems

MADISON– The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has been awarded $11.25 million in federal funds to strengthen and modernize its unemployment insurance system, part of a continuing improvement process to make its system more reliable and accessible to users.

On Friday, Sept. 22, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded more than $204 million in grants to modernize information technology (IT) infrastructure in 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The grants will allow Wisconsin and other states to adopt new strategies to upgrade and redesign unemployment insurance programs, better defend against fraud, and make the systems easier to main and change.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to enhance services, we continue to seek ways we can leverage technology to improve the speed and accuracy of unemployment benefit payments and make the system easier to navigate,” said DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek. “We look forward to investing these funds in additional efforts to overhaul our state’s decades-old unemployment insurance infrastructure and benefits delivery system.”

Last year, DWD announced it had published a new UI Claimant Handbook, making the handbook easier to read and understand. Publication of the new handbook follows other recent and ongoing modernization efforts including:

  • A new benefits estimator tool that is part of a comprehensive UI System overhaul and among numerous modernization efforts underway throughout DWD. DWD’s ongoing UI modernization efforts are designed to fix UI information technology system issues to improve speed and accuracy in benefit payments and improve the user experience by making the system easier to navigate.
  • A new UI dashboard that provides insight into the strength of Wisconsin’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 downturn and transparency around claims volume, benefits paid, and call response time.
  • Expanded support by DWD’s online chatbot Mattie Moo. Originally focused on Job Service, Mattie Moo has moved into a support role for individuals filing UI claims and seeking other assistance, allowing users to gain access to vital information more quickly and get their questions answered in real-time. Mattie Moo has been implemented on key UI Internet webpages and is available in English, Spanish and Hmong.
  • An upgraded UI claims portal that features better functionality and new features, including secure document upload, a message center for direct communication from claims specialists and adjudicators, text notifications, a mobile friendly design, and the option to request accommodations related to a disability for an appeal.
  • Enhancements that make it easier to file for UI benefits by updating the language for both the initial and weekly UI claim applications. These applications now feature “plain language” as much as possible.

Since 2021, DWD has received more than $28 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to improve equity, reduce fraud and modernize Wisconsin’s unemployment system.

Learn more about the U.S. Department of Labor strategy to modernize the unemployment insurance system.

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