Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told members of Congress last week that between $600 and $700 million of Federal funding approved under the American Rescue Plan Act will be used to pay for technical assistance to states to improve their unemployment insurance (UI) systems.

During a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on April 28, Walsh said that amount will come from the $2.1 billion approved under American Rescue Plan Act to help with state UI systems, many of which were overwhelmed by increased demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding, Walsh said, will be an important step in further state UI modernization. The Labor Secretary also said the agency would be asking for another $100 million for fiscal year 2022 for help to the states.

Speaking about state UI system strains, Walsh said during the hearing that he would like to work with states to strengthen their systems and make sure problems experienced during the pandemic don’t happen again.

“We— the Department of Labor— need to put a process, a check and balance in place so that we can monitor these systems across the country to make sure they’re working because, again, a $2 billion investment and then I think we’re asking for another $100 million in this budget, that’s a large investment to make in a UI system and get nothing back for it.,” said Walsh.

“This will be one of the top areas that I work on as Secretary of Labor, to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen, God forbid we have a pandemic in the future,” said Walsh of the efforts to modernize UI systems.

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act on March 11 and is meant to provide additional relief from the COVID-19 pandemic on “the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is MeriTalk SLG's Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.