Building Resilience: A plan for transforming unemployment insurance

First published April 2024

The federal-state unemployment insurance (UI) system provides crucial income support to workers who have lost employment for good cause or through no fault of their own, keeping financially strained households afloat while helping to stabilize the economy during downturns. During the COVID-19 pandemic alone, unemployment benefits supported over 53 million workers and kept 5.5 million people from falling into poverty. Yet the pandemic’s unprecedented conditions revealed long-standing, systemic deficiencies.

In recognition of the UI system’s challenges both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in June 2022 placed the UI system on itsHigh Risk List, recommending that the Department of Labor develop and implement a plan to transform the UI system. This transformation plan, first developed and released in April 2024, details the activities and strategies already completed and those underway and being pursued by the Department of Labor. It also contains recommendations for needed legislative action that directly address the critical challenges identified by GAO. This plan is structured according to the Department of Labor’s key action areas that together will build a resilient UI system, capable of responding effectively to future economic challenges.