Utah’s UI Program Turning Heads

According to the U. S. Department of Labor, Utahns benefit from one of the best unemployment insurance (UI) programs in the nation. For an unprecedented third year in a row, Utah has won the “UI Triple Crown” in recognition of a program that operates faster and more effectively than any other medium-sized state in the country. The Department of Labor award recognizes excellence in three major UI functions: benefit payments, tax operations, and appeals decisions. The UI Division—part of the Department of Workforce Services (DWS)—credits the use of the SUCCESS Framework tools and processes as the means for continuing to drive this high level of performance.

As a measure of quality, workers filing for benefits based on Utah wages must register for work with a local employment center—even if they have moved out of state. Many workers formerly employed in Utah were not registering for work and were notified that they must provide proof of work registration within 10 business days or UI benefits would be denied. As a result of this and other efforts, the quality and efficiency of UI benefit payments increased by over 16% since FY2012.

Utah’s UI contributions (tax) section increased throughput by matching a database of delinquent UI customer debts against federal government payments being made to the same customers. The payments were intercepted and offset by all or part of the Utah debt, resulting in the collection of $6.9 million in overpayments and penalties. This, and other efforts, resulted in a 6.6% improvement in throughput (capacity) since FY2012.

Utah’s UI appeals section decreased the number of cancelled hearings due to appellants failing to participate. Before applying the SUCCESS Framework tools, 17% of appellants requested a new hearing that resulted in a duplication of work and costly inconveniences for the respondents. Developing a Throughput Operating Strategy (TOS) and interference diagram helped the appeals section focus improvement efforts and, as a result, reopening requests have decreased to just over 13% since FY 2013.

These accomplishments are attributable to UI Director Bill Starks, his leadership team, and the amazing work performed by the UI front line staff. By focusing efforts on the QT/OE improvements of the SUCCESS Framework, Utah’s UI program—which was already one of the best in the country—continues to find operational efficiencies. These efforts protect the investment of employers contributing to the UI fund, ensure the integrity of UI benefits awarded to unemployed workers, and help maintain Utah’s overall economy by sustaining the purchasing power of unemployed workers.