March 02, 2022

Wyden: Oregon to Receive More than $4.5 Million to Promote Equitable Access to Unemployment Insurance Systems

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden this week announced that Oregon will receive more than $4.5 million in grant funding from the United States Department of Labor (DOL) to address disparities in access to unemployment insurance (UI).

“Throughout the pandemic, millions of workers across the country have relied on jobless benefits to make ends meet, but accessing those benefits has been challenging for too many Oregonians, ” said Wyden, who secured enhanced unemployment insurance during the pandemic, which enabled Oregonians to receive more than $6 billion in additional federal benefits. “While the Oregon Employment Department continues to work tirelessly to get benefits out the door as quickly as possible, I’m gratified to see federal dollars going to help the state address equity issues head-on.

Throughout the pandemic, disparities in access to benefits affected women, communities of color and other marginalized workers at a higher rate and often delayed delivery of much needed financial support and services. These disparities in access to unemployment insurance exposed serious real-world shortcomings in the outdated state UI systems. With this funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, Oregon will have additional resources to increase public awareness of UI programs so more people apply and improve service delivery so claimants receive their first benefits in a timely manner.

“We are working closely with states to improve the delivery of benefits and services to America’s workers and job seekers. These grants are the first of their kind to advance equity in state unemployment insurance programs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh in a statement this week. “Throughout the pandemic, the unemployment insurance system provided a critical lifeline for millions of workers, yet far too many workers struggled to access benefits quickly. To become a more robust safety net and economic stabilizer, our unemployment insurance system must serve all workers fairly and equitably.”

Along with Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia will receive grant funding to improve equitable access to their UI systems.