Unemployment Insurance (UI) has been a key component in ensuring the financial security of America's workforce for over 70 years. In fiscal year 2004, UI covered about 129 million wage and salary workers and paid about $41 billion in benefits to nearly 9 million workers who lost their jobs. The Department of Labor (Labor) and states have a shared responsibility to enhance UI program performance by ensuring that only eligible individuals receive benefits while on the UI rolls and fostering reemployment. Labor's Office of Inspector General and others have found that aspects of UI may be vulnerable to fraud and improper payments, and despite the size and scope of UI, there has been little national information to fully assess states' efforts to foster reemployment. This testimony draws upon results of several GAO reports on (1) Labor's efforts to identify, estimate, and prevent improper benefit payments and (2) federal and state efforts to help speed UI claimants' return to work. We are not making new recommendations at this time. Labor generally agreed with the UI findings in our referenced reports, but took issue with our recommendation that the Secretary work with states to consider collecting more comprehensive information on UI claimants' services and outcomes. We continue to believe this information is needed.
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