ODJFS Unemployment Compensation


What led to this audit?

In March 2020, Ohioans were asked to stay at home and businesses were shut down to help stall the spread of COVID-19. Never before had Ohio experienced an event of this nature, and the accompanying surge in unemployment claims was unprecedented. Cracks in the unemployment compensation system were exposed and Ohioans in need of assistance were left in a lurch. In response, the Ohio General Assembly passed HB 614 in October 2020, creating the Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Review Council and mandating a performance audit of the unemployment compensation system, outlining 18 specific questions to be answered relating to customer service and operational effectiveness.

What did we find?

The unemployment compensation system was not prepared for the surge in unemployment applications resulting from the pandemic. While limited human resources played a role, antiquated systems and lack of business intelligence made problems worse. Our audit had limited insight into the data maintained by ODJFS. However, backlogs in claims processing led to many Ohioans waiting months to receive unemployment benefits. Further, at the height of the pandemic, thousands of individuals were unable to reach a customer service agent when calling with questions about claims.

While many of the issues identified in our report are the result of the extraordinary strain placed on the system, we did identify several recommendations as well as issues for further study that can assist the Department in improving operations. It is our hope that these recommendations will be used as a resource to improve the unemployment compensation system and assist ODJFS in being better prepared for the next surge of claims activity.