The state has cut the rate of improper unemployment payments by more than half, saving $36 million.
Reducing the percentage of payments considered improper from 24 percent to 11 percent between 2011 and 2012 was the biggest drop in the country. Not only is the effort saving taxpayers money, it also is saving employers money. The first 26 weeks of regular benefits are 100 percent employer contributions to the New Mexico Trust Fund.
The department also claims to have reduced the unemployment insurance fraud rate — cases including deliberate falsification of information.
Workforce Solutions should be lauded for making claimants follow rules such as enrolling in its job search system within 14 days of application and tracking down those who continue to collect benefits after getting a job. More initiatives are set for 2013.
These common-sense solutions are making a tangible difference. Harder to change are some perceptions of the program. Unfortunately, some view unemployment insurance as paid time off to which they are entitled. The system was not designed to support those who want a “vacation” between jobs; it provides temporary cash payments to workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It’s not an “entitlement” like Medicare or Social Security beneficiaries have paid into. It’s a safety net financed by employers and taxpayers to help those looking for work; the operative word is “looking.”
There are always those who abuse a system through negligence, misinformation or gaming it. These reforms target those folks.
Good work, Workforce Solutions, for coming up with solutions that work for the state’s workforce.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.