The widely cited figure may not have told the whole story, but state officials say the most important takeaway still stands: Women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
The House committee on Commerce and Economic Development voted Wednesday to remove bigger benefit checks for laid-off Vermonters who have children from a Senate bill.
Vermont’s cost of unemployment insurance fraud during the pandemic “will be in the millions by the time this is all said and done,” Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington said.
The department said Friday that 90% of recent initial benefit claims had been fraudulent, prompting the department to shut down the online filing system earlier in the week.
Vermont’s labor commissioner said the federal directive could place Vermonters “in a significant overpayment status,” and called the request “unconscionable.”
Local business leaders have blamed expanded unemployment insurance for their staffing woes, but interviews with Vermonters collecting benefits reveal a range of workforce issues.
A growing number of people getting Covid-19 vaccinations “means more opportunities for Vermonters to return to work,” said Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington at Gov. Phil Scott’s Tuesday press conference.
The state’s total employment is still 8.6% below what it was a year ago, with only four states — Hawaii, Nevada, New York and California — in worse shape than Vermont.
Vermonters who never filed for unemployment report receiving mailings from the labor department that detail how to collect benefits. A department official says that’s because as many as 80% of initial UI claims in recent weeks have been fraudulent.
The Senate had to adjourn because an ill-timed power outage in Montpelier blocked an impending vote on an amendment to the controversial S.10 legislation.
Vermont is unlikely to get back to our pre-Covid level of employment anytime before 2022 — if ever.
Wayne Woodard lost his job building houses when the pandemic hit. Late checks and labor department snafus have left him behind on bills.
Although the state’s unemployment rate remained relatively low at 3.1%, there were nearly 30,000 fewer jobs than a year ago.
The state’s fiscal analysts are still assessing the impact of the measure, which is designed to direct millions to schools, health care, broadband and other services.