Latest from Wisconsin Unemployment

In late 2022 and early 2023, a few folks started contacting me about being disqualified or having to repay unemployment benefits they received during the Covid-19 pandemic because of their participation in lab testing studies.

Then at the July 2023 Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council meeting, a coalition of lab testing companies and Rep. Gundrum asked the council to support a change in the law to exempt lab testing as covered employment. According to the minutes of that meeting:
Continue Reading Lab Test Subjects as Employees

In Colleen Koch, PUA Hearing No. 21603562MD (28 Jan. 2022), the Labor and Industry Review Commission held that the Department of Workforce
Development’s notice for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) documentation requirement is legally defective, as the notice lacked notice language for filing the documentation late with good cause. The Department, however, has never corrected its PUA documentation notice. Accordingly, the deadline for satisfying the PUA documentation requirement has been extended indefinitely, since all notices of this requirement
Continue Reading PUA documentation notice is legally defective

Unique among the states, Wisconsin implemented PUA benefits during the Covid-19 pandemic with specific restrictions that did NOT match any actual statutory or regulatory requirements. One of these was a primary income test to deny PUA benefits to part-time workers who had other sources of income outside of their pandemic-related job losses.

The Commission’s argument was that the “primary income” of 20 CFR § 625.2(n) is not the same as the “principal income” in 20 CFR § 625.2(s) and
Continue Reading No primary income test for PUA benefits in Wisconsin

For the unemployment bills — AB147, AB149, AB150, and AB152 — recently passed by the legislature, I am urging Governor Evers to veto these bills in this letter.

I understand you are busy with the budget bills recently passed by the legislature.

But, the above-referenced unemployment bills recently passed by the legislature are also on your desk, and I urge you to veto them for the reasons indicated in my analysis of the bills at
Continue Reading Letter to Governor Evers

Here is some updated information on the claim-filing questions in Wisconsin. You can find prior versions of these questions at this October 2020 post, which has the questions that existed as of September 2020.

This info is based on the Department’s initial claim questions that are available here, and the weekly certifications questions that are available here. These web pages have been consolidated into single PDF files:


Continue Reading Claim-Filing questions in Wisconsin as of June 2022

Debt ceiling talks are focused on abstract “work requirements.” What these actually mean are not described in any detail. The unstated presumption is that people who receive government benefits do not work in some way because of those government benefits.

In reality, these “work requirements” do not make any sense. Unemployment, for example, is based on being able and available for work, not missing any work offered, a willingness to accept any jobs being offered to someone, and searching
Continue Reading Work requirements, wages, and jobs

The month of May is going to be eventful, as either a deal on the debt ceiling will be reached (i.e., raising it) or a massive recession and possible economic calamity will strike. Or, just maybe we will get a combination of both because a giant coin or issuance of fancy debt called premium bonds will not resolve all the worries in the world about the United States no longer paying its debts from previous expenditures.

Layoffs, whether
Continue Reading Jobs, the Debt Ceiling, and Recession

At the January 2023 meeting of the Advisory Council, the Department presented the public testimony from the November 2022 public hearing. As has happened in the past, there was no discussion or examination of that testimony.

Note: Examination of the last three unemployment public hearings and the testimony provided in 2020, 2018, and 2016 are available: Recap of the 2020 public hearing, Advisory Council meeting — 17 Jan. 2019, and Winter work search concerns.

Here
Continue Reading The November 2022 public hearing

A person contacted me about his unemployment debt of around $15,000 (generally a low amount for the cases I am seeing). There was nothing that could be done about that debt other than to repay it. But, there were some issues in his case that everyone should be aware of.
The first thing to know are what the Department will do to collect an unemployment debt.

Department collection tools
The Department will apply the following mechanisms to collect any
Continue Reading The Legal and Illegal Unemployment Collections in Wisconsin

With the April 2023 election, an incredibly general, state-wide advisory ballot question about people on welfare needing to work passed by wide margins.

The Wisconsin legislature has taken that passage as a message to suddenly revamp and fine tune unemployment eligibility without actually fixing any of the problems with unemployment claim-filing in this state.

First some background.

It is vital to know that unemployment claim-filing is now in 2023 much, much different from what used to occur.

Year Claimants
Continue Reading Legislature pushes a bunch of no-reform unemployment proposals

At almost every unemployment hearing there will be document in the hearing packet that pretends to be a claimant statement. This “statement” pretends to represent what the claimant told a Department investigator in a phone call, and at the hearing the administrative law judge will almost always ask the claimant, “Is this statement true and accurate?”

Note: Many people tell me about their phone interviews being recorded. Phone interviews are never recorded, because then the pretend claimant statements describe
Continue Reading Department investigators are NOT true and accurate

In late 2022, it is time to see what has happened in Wisconsin with unemployment claim-filing.

Note: The charts presented here are from the Unemployment Insurance Data Explorer, which takes DOL unemployment data obtained from the states and provides a quick way to see what this data means.

Why claims are denied

First, some basic facts need to be introduced. Far too many people think that unemployment claims are approved or denied because of a dispute over a
Continue Reading Claim filing after the pandemic

The Department has announced three hours of public hearing on November 17th from 2 to 4 pm and from 5 to 6 pm for unemployment comments and feedback.

Prior registration for a specific session is required.

Comments can also be submitted by e-mail message to UILawChange@dwd.wisconsin.gov, an e-mail address that will only be active from November 9th to 18th.

Comments by regular mail can be mailed to:

Janell Knutson, Chair
Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council
P.O. Box 8942
Madison WI
Continue Reading Unemployment public hearing in 2022

Jake has been providing excellent coverage about the current economic and jobs data and how wage growth here was been more of an illusion than a reality.

In July 2022, Jake reported that unemployment in Wisconsin has been at record lows — below 3% — but that job growth is stagnating.

What this indicates to me is that things are actually still very healthy in Wisconsin’s jobs market, but we still can’t find enough people at publicly facing
Continue Reading Jobs data, unemployment, and a lack of wage growth

The state legislature has been pushing a host of unemployment reforms that actually make unemployment worse or provide little more than a talking point. See, e.g., Replacing unemployment with reemployment or Carrots or Sticks? Lawmakers can’t agree on how to help employers who can’t fill jobs.

The things that might make unemployment better, however, were almost universally ignored. Thanks to the Legislative Reference Bureau and its legislative tracking services, here are most of the bills that have now
Continue Reading Unemployment Legislation that Failed to Pass in Wisconsin

Note: Previous posts detailed the length of time and number of cases in the unemployment backlog in part 1, some of the mistakes by the Department that allow cases to be re-opened in part 2, a place for stories and advice about how to find assistance in part 3, how most claims in Wisconsin — and unlike in other states — are being denied and thereby creating a ginormous backlog in hearings in part 4,
Continue Reading Unemployment Delays, Part 9 — The Portal is NOT Accurate