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BATON ROUGE – Louisiana’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund ended its fiscal year $65.3 million greater than in 2013 and exceeded the growth forecast by the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
The Trust Fund, which is funded by employer-paid taxes, was $904.2 million on Aug. 31, the last day of its fiscal year. Although the LWC forecast the Trust Fund would grow as a result of Louisiana's strengthening economy, the fund balance rose $41 million more than projected.
In related news, the LWC also announced today it will receive $1.6 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to further strengthen performance of its unemployment insurance program.
“Our Trust Fund is on a solid footing and the grant will enable us to do more to further strengthen it,” said LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink.
Shortening the average duration of unemployment claims by ramping up efforts to return claimants to work has been a top priority of the LWC and has directly led to growth of the Trust Fund. The average duration of claims in Louisiana improved to 13.6 weeks in July 2014 from nearly 20 weeks in April 2012 when the LWC introduced its re-employment program.
“We empower job seekers from the time they walk in our door,” Eysink said. “We assess their skills, match them with jobs they qualify for or connect them with training to help them qualify for available jobs.”
The LWC has taken other steps that also helped grow the Trust Fund, including:
• Switched all Louisiana employers to online filing of unemployment wage reports and taxes, resulting in more accurate tax payments and fewer benefit overpayments;
• Stepped-up activities to collect past-due unemployment taxes, funds which are added directly to the Trust Fund;
• Launched an awareness campaign reducing improper payments;
• Collected unemployment taxes from 9,000 additional employers who opened new accounts last fiscal year.
The LWC’s $1.6 million grant is part of $87 million in USDOL funds to strengthen unemployment performance in 46 states. The LWC will use its funds to:
• Participate in a multi-state data-sharing initiative that reduces fraudulent unemployment benefit payments;
• Beef up collection of benefit overpayments payments to individuals, and delinquent taxes from employers;
• Purchase equipment that strengthens data security;
• Launch a multi-media awareness campaign to inform more workers about being properly classified by their employers.
Check out the LWC’s no-fee services, including the Louisiana Star Jobs career exploration and job search app, at www.laworks.net.
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