Virginia’s unemployment system is underwater.
Claim delays are rising.
Virginians and their families are slipping under and drowning.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Unemployment insurance is supposed to be emergency aid. If there’s an issue with someone’s claim, it’s supposed to get figured out quickly.
But these days, tens of thousands of Virginians can’t get answers. They aren’t getting unemployment. Instead, they applied and now they’re waiting. Often for months. If they can get any info at all, they are told their cases will be processed—someday.
Virginia is slower than every other state in the U.S., and slower than D.C., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, in processing issues on unemployment claims. In the last three months of 2020, less than 5% of “nonmonetary” issues (like how someone’s job ended) were resolved by Virginia within 21 days. Some Virginia workers who lost their jobs in March, April, or May 2020 are still waiting, even now.
Source: State Rankings of Core Measures, U.S. Dep’t of Labor, available at https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/ranking.asp
Behind these stats are real Virginians and their families.
They are facing homelessness, food insecurity, and despair.
Other states have figured out how to process issues faster. They’ve hired more people. Called up the National Guard. Transferred more judges. Designed new computer systems.
Virginia can do better, too, and it must. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the state of emergency, it’s time to do more. The biggest flood of unemployment since the Great Depression deserves a disaster relief mobilization like no other. Virginia’s government can do this – if we tell them they must.