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US Labor Secretary talks federal plan to fix Ohio’s unemployment system

How can states reduce fraud? The Biden Administration bets modernized websites and technology will help.
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 5:17 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh says the federal government is investing $2 billion in the country’s unemployment systems.

Walsh was in Cincinnati visiting the Interfaith Workers Center in OTR to discuss wage theft and workplace safety with immigrant workers and labor leaders.

“We have not made an investment in human infrastructure in this country of the magnitude that’s being proposed by President Biden,” Walsh said. “We have not made an investment in updating our unemployment system, probably since it was created.”

Ohio’s processing system has not been updated since the early 2000′s, and leaders with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services say the system could not handle the record number of unemployment claims the pandemic created.

MORE: The Unemployment Crisis

“The $2 billion, we have to stretch to make sure that we’re working to make sure these systems are good, so that when people are unemployed, they can get the benefits.” Walsh said. “We need to make sure that these systems that many states have are not antiquated anymore and [are brought] into the 21st-century technology-wise. And if we do all that, then what will automatically happen is we will reduce the fraud.”

ODJFS leaders say the state has paid out more than $2 billion to fraudulent claims.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced at the end of August the establishment of the Office of Unemployment Insurance Modernization. The department says it will provide strategic leadership as the department works with state agencies and federal partners to modernize and reform the unemployment insurance system.

The department says the new unit will develop and support the implementation of the strategic vision outlined in the unemployment insurance modernization plan.

Learn more about the UI Modernization Plan.

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