Time to Repair the (Unemployment Claims Management) Roof

In 2014, the US Department of Labor reported 16.5M initial unemployment claims filed. Based on their reporting on the current pace of initial claims, we will likely end 2016 with 13.4M claims. With 3M fewer claims being filed, fewer resources are needed for claims management. Resources they can shift to other priorities . . . for now. That will change, and when it does, it will change fast. So what you do with those resources today can have a big impact on how prepared you are for tomorrow.

Unemployment data from the DOL proves that recessions are cyclical. The data also shows that we are due. In a survey of top economists conducted by Bloomberg, more than a third predicted that the next US recession would hit in 2018.

During the last recession, the claim volume TRIPLED in just three months. So let’s do that math quickly. The current initial claim volume reported by the DOL (4 week moving average) is 265,250. It’s been in and around that level for the past 18 months.  If a recession were to take hold today, based on the volumes reported during previous recessions, employers could expect to be managing nearly three times that weekly volume, or up to 800,000 claims every week. Are you ready?

John F. Kennedy once said “the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” For employers managing separations, the sun is shining. It’s time to repair the roof:

  1. Make sure claims are going to the right place. Review each of your SUIs for accuracy of POA and OMA information (especially if you have multiple locations).
  2. Identify someone to manage the unemployment case processes as well as the company procedures in place to route claims to them.
  3. Update the information you have on UI Integrity (UII) laws  in each state you operate in. There are more than 29 different state interpretations of UII and the laws did not exist in 2009, which means that when the next recession hits, a timely and complete response will be required for every claim that is filed.
  4. Understand your unemployment case management metrics . How many claims do you receive per month? How much are you currently paying in benefits per claim (hint: review your QCRs for the past year)? How long does it take you to manage each unemployment case? How many initial decisions are you protesting and preparing for hearings?  Now pressure test to understand what that looks like times 3.
  5. If you work with a TPA to manage your unemployment, start asking questions:  How do they manage spikes in claim volume? What impacts do they anticipate with the next recession? What are they doing to help employers prepare?

To learn how Equifax can help your organization streamline your unemployment claims management program, contact Pete Krieshok at pete.krieshok@Equifax.com.

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