President Biden’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2023 is seeking $3.4 billion for the Labor Department (DoL) to help modernize unemployment insurance (UI) systems run by states and territories – many of which were overwhelmed with demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

The administration is seeking $14.6 billion in FY2023 funding for the Labor Department overall.

According to DoL, 53 million workers lost their jobs during the course of the pandemic and unemployment insurance benefits helped them pump $870 billion back into the economy.

The $3.4 billion sought in the budget request would be used by DoL to modernize the system, and protect and strengthen state UI programs.

Among the improvements sought would be investments “aimed at tackling fraud in the UI program, including funding to support enhanced identity verification for UI applicants and help states develop and test fraud-prevention tools and strategies.”

“President Biden’s 2023 budget request of $14.6 billion in discretionary resources for the Department of Labor is an explicit value statement on empowering workers morning, noon and night,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh in a statement. “It calls for investments in the foundations of our country’s strength – our workers, their families and their communities.”

The proposed funding for the UI program would also allow the Office of the Inspector General to increase investigations into fraud rings that target the UI program.

Elsewhere, the budget request for DoL includes $2.2 billion to invest in worker protection agencies, a $397 million increase over the 2021 enacted level.

“This will enable the department to conduct the enforcement and regulatory work needed to ensure workers’ wages and benefits are protected and improve workplace health and safety,” the statement said. “It also restores resources to oversee and enforce the equal employment obligations of Federal contractors, including protections against discrimination based on race, gender, disability, gender identity and sexual orientation.”

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