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New Report Argues Nation’s Unemployment System Is Failing

Above: People filing unemployment wait in line at one of Las Vegas' Job Connect Centers.

Aired 11/7/13 on KPBS News.

A report released this week shows the majority of states are using antiquated technology systems to process unemployment benefits.

The demands of the recession and historically high unemployment rates have pushed the nation’s unemployment systems to the limit, revealing an array of problems. A new report highlights a nationwide crisis, arguing the federal government bears much of the blame.

The National Employment Law Project, based in New York City, released a report this week showing that the majority of states are using antiquated technology systems to process unemployment benefits, and that many offices are understaffed and underfunded. In September, Maurice Emsellum, who works with the not-for-profit project in California, told Fronteras that, in many cases, the states’ hands are tied.

We have an infrastructure that’s falling apart at the seams. And it’s the responsibility of the federal government, they hold the purse strings, to put the system back together.

The new study claims chronic underfunding from the federal government has largely contributed to recent disasters in states like California and Nevada where people faced backlogged claims and phone access issues. The report also points to Nevada’s 59 percent cut to long-term unemployment benefits in September, saying that an out-of-date computer system could not process federal sequester cuts in time. The U.S. Department of Labor could not be reached for comment.

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