Washington Retail recently attended the national unemployment insurance conference presented by the National Foundation for Unemployment Compensation and Workers’ Compensation. The meeting, held in Memphis, Tennessee, is the only national conference of its kind. UWC is the only organization dedicated to unemployment and workers’ compensation on a state and federal level. WR has been a longtime member and collaborator with UWC and its President, Doug Holmes.
Top speakers from Washington, D.C., and around the country filled three days of content on the latest policy and challenges facing our federal and state UI programs.
One of the major focuses of the conference was the recovery of the unemployment benefits stolen during the pandemic—totaling a staggering $191 billion nationally—the largest scam theft in the country’s history. Efforts are underway to identify the criminals, bring them to justice, and recover stolen funds. This has proven very challenging as many thieves are outside the US. A considerable amount of attention was given to preventing something like this from happening in the future. Ensuring the person applying for and receiving the benefits is who they say they are without unduly hindering legitimate claims.
Washington State is unique in the unemployment compensation space in several ways. We have the highest wage base – more than double the second-place state – and the highest weekly benefit in the country. We also have one of the most sound and stable UI trust funds. During the pandemic, Washington avoided borrowing money from the federal government to make benefit payments, while most other states ran out of money and ended up borrowing. California still owes the federal government $17 billion!
WR values the resources and collaboration with UWC and looks forward to continued collaboration.