- The Labor Department reported false counts of week-to-week jobless-benefits claims, and several states underpaid unemployed Americans through a key economic relief program, the Government Accountability Office said Monday.
- Inconsistent state data, claims backlogs, and potential fraud in the benefits system resulted in “flawed week-to-week comparisons” of jobless-claims data, the government watchdog said.
- Average weekly payments through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program fell below the poverty line in 29 of the 41 states reporting data, the agency added. While some states made minimum payments first and plan to back pay remaining totals, it’s unclear when the process can be completed.
- The GAO’s report signals the virus’ economic fallout may be greater than first thought and that most states aren’t paying out the immediate relief allocated by Congress.
The Labor Department’s weekly tally of unemployment-insurance filings has reflected inaccurate data throughout the pandemic, and jobless Americans are being underpaid through the benefits program, the Government Accountability Office said Monday.
The historic number of unemployed Americans applying for benefits has skewed weekly claims figures for months, the government watchdog said in its report. Inconsistent state data, claims backlogs, and potential fraud in the benefits system has resulted in “flawed week-to-week comparisons of total claims numbers,” the GAO added.
Additionally, a program meant to provide benefits to workers who lost their jobs because of the pandemic has been underpaying recipients in most states, the GAO said. Some states paid minimum amounts first and aim to back pay the rest of recipients’ claims once new tax information is taken into account. Still, average weekly payments through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program in September fell below the poverty line in 29 of 41 states reporting data, the GAO said.