June 07,2022

Wyden Statement on GAO Reports on Unemployment Insurance

Washington, D.C. -- Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today released the following statement in response to a series of Government Accountability Office reports on the state of unemployment insurance:

“While expanded jobless benefits saved millions of families from financial ruin during the pandemic, the GAO’s reports make clear the unemployment system is broken—both in terms of program administration and benefit policy. The historic action Congress took—expanding benefits and covering gig and part-time workers—papered over deep problems that need to be addressed before the next economic downturn.

“Outdated technology and underfunded administration led to unacceptably long wait times for workers and left the system vulnerable to fraud during the pandemic.

“Despite unprecedented Congressional action, many workers were still left out—and GAO’s research suggests significant racial disparities in who received benefits.

“My proposal with Senator Bennet would address many of the problems GAO identifies by funding administration and technology modernization, ensuring benefits better cover the basics, and making the system more responsive to economic conditions.

“Now, for the good news: GAO found that expanded benefits ‘created overall economic stability, prevented detrimental outcomes from worsening, and had a limited effect on workers’ incentives to return to work.’ This confirms what Democrats have long said—expanded unemployment benefits played a critical role in keeping families afloat and saving our economy.”