Unemployment Insurance

We want workers to access needed unemployment insurance benefits quickly, safely, and confidently.

Our approach

U.S. Digital Response (USDR) helps governments ensure equitable, accurate, and timely delivery of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits by using minimum-code technology and human-centered design. We understand the challenges governments face in administering benefits and are a trusted partner for workforce agencies across the country in their efforts to ensure all workers have access to this necessary lifeline.

USDR can also provide much needed support for workforce agencies to improve language access, including research and translation services to reach those with limited English proficiency.

Since April 2020, we have partnered with nine state workforce agencies and the Department of Labor to help streamline processes for both claimants and case workers, delivering benefits quickly to those who need them most.

“At a time when we needed to move quickly and thoughtfully, U.S. Digital Response assisted the Kansas Department of Labor in making it possible for Kansas residents to apply for the unemployment benefits they need.”

Secretary DeAngela Burns-Wallace, Ed. D.
Executive Branch Chief Information Technology Officer
Kansas Department of Administration

“Over and over again we have heard from people that they are so grateful this tool exists. It is truly serving folks in their time of need.

Holly Low
Manager of Strategic Outreach
New Jersey Department of Labor

“USDR has helped us work ahead of our solutioning by providing critical research and skillful guidance throughout 2021. Their teams have been professional, passionate, and [make it] easy to collaboratively accomplish complex work. Looking forward to future projects!”

Matt LaPalm
Director of Digital Service & Open Government
City of San Rafael

We can help

Improve the claimant experience

Provide plain language & translation support

Reduce call center volume

Automate fraud and risk management

Evaluate vendor offerings

Streamline vendor onboarding

Get help now

Current offerings

Language Access for Unemployment Insurance

We can help your state increase equitable access to unemployment insurance for workers with limited English proficiency by providing plain language translation support.

Learn more about Language Access for Unemployment Insurance >>
Multilingual Retroactive PUA Eligibility Resources for State Workforce Agencies

We have worked closely with a state workforce agency to help administer retroactive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in English and Spanish. To help additional workforce agencies in similar efforts, USDR has made the insights and recommendations free for any district, or territory in the U.S. to use.

Learn more about our multilingual UI resources
Customer support mechanisms for UI agencies

Phone operators are critical for helping people who need high-touch support, but agencies have been overwhelmed by volume. In this guide, we investigate complementary mechanisms such as online appointment scheduling and chatbots.

Read the guide »
Identity proofing for UI agencies

We’ve researched the major vendors that provide automated identity proofing services. In this guide, we evaluate their solutions, government compatibility, and credibility.

Read the guide »
Unemployment Insurance Modernization Guidebook

Our definitive guide for designing, building, and maintaining humane UI systems, as informed by all of our previous and current work with agencies around the United States. We cover identity proofing, case management, customer support, and more.

Read the guide »
Don’t see what you need? Talk to us about a custom project.
We’re always looking to partner with governments on new solutions. Contact our team to discuss the problems you’re facing.
Get help now

Selected case studies

A State Partner
Effective communication with UI claimants through a standalone case management system

USDR has partnered with more than ten workforce agencies to troubleshoot challenges, expand capacity, and improve user experience for UI claimants.

One of our state partners was on a corrective action plan because it could not meet US Department of Labor standards for claimant experience  (87% of claimant issues resolved within 3 weeks). At that time, the State Department of Labor relied on scheduling phone calls with claimants to resolve issues, creating a backlog so large that calls needed to be scheduled weeks into the future.

In partnership with USDR, the State switched to a new online fact-finding interview. This resulted in a response from 50% of claimants within one day—instead of weeks for each individual concern. In moving to an adaptable new system, examiners nearly doubled the number of cases they were able to process in a day.

Read the full case study »Read more about this project »
Team members
Alyssa Levitz
Former Technologist-in-Residence
U.S. Digital Response
Micah Mitrux
Project Delivery Lead
Code for BTV
Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry
Unemployment insurance claimant user research

Research conducted by USDR, including 2600 website survey responses, 4500 call center calls, and 10 in-depth interviews with individual claimants, found that a majority of users could not find the information they needed on the Pennsylvania unemployment compensation website.

USDR’s final report, Unemployment Claimant Research Findings, shared actionable insights. The team also developed plain language guidelines and example wireframes.

USDR believes in user-centered design and modular, incremental delivery of innovation. Many of the recommendations were implemented immediately, improving the user experience today, rather than requiring claimants to wait for a months-long website overhaul.

Read the full case study »Read more about this project »
Team members
Casey Malcolm
Lead UX Researcher
Amica Insurance Company
Christopher Mather
Executive Producer
The WNET Group
Jessie Posilkin
Former Economic Stability Program Lead
U.S. Digital Response
Kerrin McLaughlin
Senior UX Designer
Kansas Department of Labor
Supporting unemployment insurance systems

Due to layoffs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) saw a 5000 percent increase in traffic to its unemployment insurance (UI) application website overnight, overwhelming its existing systems and causing delays in response times.

The team in Kansas connected with USDR, which recommended and helped implement a content delivery network (CDN) to support the UI system’s significantly higher traffic.

USDR’s work helped cut visitor response times in half on the Kansas Department of Labor website. USDR also provides ongoing consulting on improving the site performance and reducing load on KDOL systems and staff, including scaling and security.

Read the full case study »Read more about this project »
Team members
Alyssa Levitz
Former Technologist-in-Residence
U.S. Digital Response

Meet the team

Marcie Chin
Marcie is manages the Unemployment Insurance Program, specializing in strategy, UX research, and language access. She believes that the application of equity-centered design and ethical technology creates value for all people and systems.
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“We are honored to see so many dedicated technologists step up to work on behalf of New York City. With technology products that work to combat hate crimes, lower language barriers, and drive digital equity, the work [...] will have a lasting impact on improving New Yorkers’ lives.”

Bill de Blasio
New York City

“USDR has provided smart, informed, and fast help for a variety of issues. They are an invaluable resource to governments at a critical time.”

Robert Gordon
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

“Volunteers from USDR have not only helped bring incredible expertise and extra hands to us in a great time of need, they’ve provided critical-thinking skills at a time when our team is working long hours and experiencing burnout.”

Rebecca Woodbury
Director of Digital Service & Open Government
City of San Rafael

“USDR has been an invaluable source of talent, helping our office move at the ‘speed of need’... I would recommend any agency consider partnering with them to add team capacity and leverage unique skill sets in these trying times.”

Ross Dakin
New Jersey Office of Innovation