Data Places Louisiana First in Nation for Overpayment of Unemployment Benefits

Director of state’s workforce commission warns against state-by-state comparisons

NEW ORLEANS – According to data released by the US Department of Labor, Louisiana is by far the leading culprit for overpayments of unemployment insurance. However, Louisiana’s Workforce Commission Director, Curt Eysink, strongly disputes any interpretation that places the state’s UI program at the bottom of the pack.

In July the Labor Department estimated that in 2009 $7.1 billion of the nation’s UI payments were overpaid – 9.3 percent of the $77 billion total. From the start of September the department also made state-by-state data available, and Louisiana came out with the highest rate, with overpayments comprising 42 percent of the total. The state with the next highest overpayment rate, Indiana, had 33 percent, and New Mexico was third with 29 percent. The top three states in terms of accurate payments – New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Massachusetts – all had overpayment rates of less than 3 percent. Additionally, the 5.7 percent rate of fraudulence places Louisiana third highest in the nation – just behind Arizona and Arkansas, on 6.0 and 5.9 percent respectively.

To comply with the federal “Benefit Accuracy Program,” Louisiana’s Workforce Commission randomly surveyed 483 of its payments. However, the commission found that 42 percent of the dollar total did not fit under current legislation. 5.7 percent of all payments were identifiably fraudulent, from the recipients’ willful misrepresentation or concealment of facts, and the remaining overpayments were categorized as “non-fraud” – on account of administrative or computing errors.

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Fergus Hodgson is the Capitol Bureau Reporter with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. He can be contacted at [email protected], and one can follow him on twitter.

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