Rhode Island will receive an additional $17 million to bolster the state's unemployment system and help provide more employment opportunities for Rhode Island workers, the state's Congressional delegation announced today along with Governor Lincoln Chafee. The federal funding will be used to reinstate some of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) staffers who were laid off from the Unemployment Insurance Division and to enhance the integrity of the unemployment insurance system and help more Rhode Islanders find work.
DLT will receive $537,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor in Unemployment Insurance (UI) Administration funding to help bring back employees who were laid off through no fault of their own. Soon after DLT was forced to lay off employees earlier this year, the Congressional Delegation sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis requesting that her office assess the situation and determine whether any relief could be provided to the state. After review, the Secretary determined the state will receive this supplemental Unemployment Insurance funding this week.
The state will also receive $2.1 million to improve UI program integrity and technology to help save taxpayers by preventing fraud and incorrect payments. Additionally, DLT, in conjunction with Mississippi and Maine has been awarded about $10 million from a consortium technology project grant to collaborate efforts to improve service levels and modernize state UI systems. The state will also lead a separate effort with Utah and Wisconsin on an $826,000 consortium technology project grant.
Additionally, the state will receive over $1.1 million in federal Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment (REA) funds for career centers around the state to provide personalized assessments to help unemployed individuals get back on their feet faster and find their next job.
"This federal funding will help speed job seekers' return to work and ensure the integrity of the UI system. Director Fogarty and his staff are doing everything they can to help get Rhode Islanders into jobs and help the unemployed get their benefit issues resolved. Recovering from the recession will never be fast enough, but we remain focused on passing comprehensive jobs legislation, a fair and simpler tax policy for middle-class families and small businesses, and enacting a responsible, balanced plan to reduce the deficit," said U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline in a joint statement.
"As Governor, I have been concerned with the effects of decreased staffing levels at the Department of Labor and Training, and have been awaiting news of additional federal funding for unemployment insurance staff. I am heartened that the return of these trained staff members will help reduce wait times for those seeking unemployment insurance benefits, and am extremely grateful to the U.S. Department of Labor and the Congressional Delegation for their support," said Governor Chafee.
Additionally, as a result of a law authored by Senator Reed, today the state received about a $3.1 million reimbursement from the federal government for its work share program.
Over the last three years, Rhode Island has received about $750 million in federal unemployment insurance assistance to help individuals, businesses, and boost the state's economy during the recession. In June, DLT was awarded a $2.78 million Workforce Innovation Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor -- one of only 26 grants awarded nationwide.
DLT was also able to use approximately $23.4 million in Recovery Act money to help administer unemployment benefits and pay for call-center staff