Pennsylvania has experienced an administrative meltdown with its unemployment system that has led to months long waits for unemployment benefits to issue after many state employees were furloughed because of budget shortfalls. The auditor report details how a lack of personnel has led to extraordinary delays by the state in simply processing unemployment claims.
Without additional funding, these problems are only going to get worse. As Community Legal Services of Philadelphia explains in a press release:
As badly as the UC program has served unemployed Pennsylvanians since the furloughs in December, the report indicates that without state supplemental funding, it will get far worse. It projects that without state supplemental funding of $12.1 million in 2017 and $20.2 million in 2018, three more service centers will be closed and their staff furloughed. The remaining staff will not be able to do more than process claims, leading to an administrative system conducted solely on-line. Even communications between staff and claimants will be electronic.
There is precedent for an entirely on-line system. In 2011, Florida began requiring all UC filings to be on-line. Since then, UC recipiency has fallen to 1 in 8 unemployed workers, the lowest rate in the country. See Ain’t No Sunshine: Fewer than One in Eight Unemployed Workers in Florida Is Receiving Unemployment Insurance (NELP 2015).
This experience in Florida provides plenty of caution for Wisconsin’s announced push to go to an on-line only system. As described in this blog, benefit payments in Florida have plummeted under its on-line system.