ICYMI: UW-Madison Report Exposes Extent of Gov. Tony Evers’ Failures on Unemployment Claims

[Madison, WI] – In case you missed it, a new report from UW-Madison is highlighting the extent of Gov. Tony Evers’ failures on processing state unemployment claims — finding that Wisconsin stands among the worst states in handling claims during the pandemic.

According to the report, the Evers administration was paying out less than one-third of claims — giving Wisconsin one of the worst payment rates in the country. Additionally, nearly 30 percent of first payments were delayed more than 70 days, with some Wisconsinites waiting nearly ten months to receive their benefits. Wisconsin also held the second-highest overpayment rate nationally and “continues to lag most [other states] in performance.”

Wisconsinites have watched Gov. Tony Evers fail throughout his COVID-19 response, from Wisconsin’s unemployment claim backlog topping 100,000, to the Department of Workforce Development answering less than 1 percent of calls from unemployed Wisconsinites to Gov. Evers only meeting with the DWD Secretary once to fire him. When Wisconsinites have needed real leadership the most, Gov. Tony Evers has remained asleep at the wheel.

Read more from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel below:

Report says state should outsource unemployment services after pandemic failures
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Laura Schulte
May 12, 2021

After a year fraught with unemployment payment delays, high rates of unemployment denials, call center headaches and other issues, a new University of Wisconsin report suggests the state should outsource at least a portion of its unemployment system. 

The report by conservative UW economics professor Noah Williams detailed areas the state lagged behind most other states as the wave of unemployment claims swamped the state’s Department of Workforce Development last year. 

Williams, the director of the UW-Madison Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy, said the report shows how the state struggled to keep up with incoming claims, which put some claimants in precarious situations the program is meant to curb. 

“It seems like there’s been a lot of people slipping through the cracks and either not getting paid or suffering very long delays,” he said. “So overall, the unemployment insurance situation, which is designed to provide income and liquidity for unemployed workers, just didn’t seem to work very well.” 


Among the findings: 

  • Nearly 30% of first payments were delayed more than 70 days, the eighth-highest rate among states. That state’s continued claims since the start of the pandemic have been delayed at more than double the national rate of delayed payments, according to the study. Some people waited nearly 10 months for their claims to go through adjudication.
  • Despite the economic effects of the pandemic slightly waning, delays are still an issue in the state, with about 20% of payments still delayed more than 70 days, the study found. Since June 2020, 12.3% of continued claims payments have been delayed more than 70 days, more than twice the national average of 4.9%.
  • Wisconsin took longer than most states to implement federal unemployment programs, delaying payments further after each federal expansion. 
  • Wisconsin was paying out about 30% of claims made, putting Wisconsin among the lowest payment rates in the country.