The Blame Game: Unemployment in Wisconsin

Despite Wisconsin passing the nation’s first unemployment compensation law in 1932, its recent unemployment management hasn’t been as revolutionary. When it came to last year’s unemployment, it really just…sucked.

People that lost their jobs are staying that way, while the government seems to be on vacation.

@asgoeswisconsin

Update on unemployment in Wisconsin. Tl;dr: keep your job if you have one. #unemploymentcheck #newsroom

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As the pandemic surged, tens of thousands of people were forced to wait months to hear about their claims. What have our politicians done? A whole lot of pointing fingers.

The Blame Game

The GOP has mainly blamed Gov. Evers for mismanaging unemployment during the pandemic. They also recently rejected Evers’ call for a special meeting session to modernize the state’s unemployment system with more funding, saying he already had enough resources to do so.

Evers said the system’s 60-year-old COBAL computers, which use Eisenhower-era programming language, are to blame for the state being unable to handle the scale of unemployment claims.

So basically everyone in power is saying “No you did it,” “No, you DID!” And for those staring into foreclosure, I don’t think they’re looking for an academic breakdown of why this problem is occurring. I’m pretty sure they just want it fixed. Partisan government works like a chime.

Background

This isn’t a new problem either. The unemployment insurance (UI) has needed fixing.

Over the past two decades, at least three administrations and hundreds of lawmakers knew that the system couldn’t handle a job loss spike. In 2007, it was common knowledge that the system’s old computers didn’t have the capacity to handle high claim traffic.

You’re telling me a teenager playing video games on an Xbox has a better Internet speeds than those trying to process unemployment claims? Yup. We’re doing just fine.

Thankfully, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development is now working to update its UI system technology after it received a grant from the federal government. Overdue, but welcomed.

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