Department of Employment Receives $4.5 Million for Fair Access to Unemployment Insurance Benefits | News

Oregon will receive more than $4.5 million in grants from the United States Department of Labor (DOL) to address disparities in access to Unemployment Insurance (UI). The Oregon Department of Employment (OED) will use the grant to provide direct outreach to underserved communities and collect data to identify communities that need more help.

“This grant will help us reach people who really need our services but have not been able to access them,” said OED Acting Director David Gerstenfeld. “It gives us the opportunity to connect with partners who bring a deep understanding of Oregon’s unique communities, to gain invaluable insights into how best to serve those communities, and to gather the data that shows us where we stand. find the obstacles and how to eliminate them. .”

Gerstenfeld said the grant will allow the agency to build on what it has already started during the pandemic. During the wave of unemployment claims, OED listened to the expressed needs of Oregon’s underserved communities and quickly implemented strategies that improved access to its much-needed services.

This included partnering with community organizations to help people apply and expanding the amount of information available in languages ​​other than English, including on the OED website.

With the grant, OED plans to create a new business unit called Equitable Access to Unemployment Insurance (EAUI). The unit will create new materials in additional languages ​​and formats, implement outreach programs for underserved communities, and provide one-on-one referral services to help people who experience barriers to using the system. unemployment insurance.

Designed in alignment with the State of Oregon’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan, the new program will focus on Native Americans, Latinx, Black, Pacific Islander, Asian Americans, immigrants, people who need help in languages ​​other than English, people with disabilities and those who are economically disadvantaged.

OED will also use federal funding to analyze the data and determine which underserved communities would benefit from future outreach efforts.

Oregon is one of the first four recipients of the DOL grant.

“These grants are the first of their kind to advance equity in state unemployment insurance programs,” said US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. “To become a stronger safety net and economic stabilizer, our unemployment insurance system must serve all workers fairly and equitably.”

US Senator Ron Wyden said millions of workers across the country have relied on unemployment benefits to make ends meet throughout the pandemic. However, accessing these benefits has been difficult for too many Oregonians. He is grateful to the federal government for assisting Oregon in its ongoing efforts to provide equitable relief.

“As the Oregon Department of Employment continues to work tirelessly to get benefits through as quickly as possible, I’m thrilled to see federal dollars helping the state address employment issues head-on. fairness,” Wyden said.