New Jersey has launched a new online unemployment insurance (UI) initial application intended to improve user accessibility.

Creation of the state’s new website was supported by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), which selected New Jersey in 2021 to participate in the Claimant Experience Pilot, a national effort to modernize the Federal unemployment insurance system to improve the claimant experience and streamline the delivery of unemployment benefits.

N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy said the announcement of the new website “marks the culmination of years of rigorous review and extensive user testing at every stage.”

“Unemployment insurance – like a house with a leaky roof – should be fixed during good times, when there’s sunshine, because you can’t replace a damaged roof in the middle of a storm,” said U.S. Department of Labor Acting Secretary Julie Su.

“Thanks to strong and bold leadership, New Jersey is now building one of the most innovative and modern unemployment insurance systems in the country,” she said. “By spearheading a more modern and reliable Unemployment Insurance program, Governor Murphy and Labor Commissioner Asaro-Angelo are setting a national example for how to make sure unemployment benefits are easily accessible for workers who have hit hard times and are looking for re-employment.”

The New Jersey Department of Labor partnered with the New Jersey Office of Innovation and the New Jersey Office of Information Technology to engage with claimants and create a new unemployment application system that meets the needs of residents and can be adapted to quickly address future challenges. The new unemployment application was rolled out incrementally over the past several months to ensure an improved experience for all applicants, and the application was fully rolled out last month.

“New Jersey has established itself not only as a staunch supporter of our workers, but also as a budding innovation hub. It is fitting that this endeavor utilized innovative and cutting-edge strategies to ensure the timely and efficient delivery of unemployment insurance benefits to claimants,” said Gov. Murphy. “Nothing should stand in the way of New Jersey residents accessing critical unemployment benefits to make difficult times more manageable.”

The new app includes several upgraded features designed to streamline and enhance the user experience, including:

  • The ability to save and pause the application to finish later;
  • Availability in English and Spanish;
  • Maximized accessibility for assistive devices with a mobile-friendly format that enables the application to be completed on a phone, tablet, or computer;
  • Revised questions to make it easier for claimants to understand and answer accurately;
  • Removal of 19 percent of questions to make finishing in one sitting more likely; and
  • A new landing page relevant to a claimant’s current situation and next steps.

“Being between jobs is stressful on its own, so I’m thrilled we can provide workers with a friendlier, easier way to get the unemployment benefits they’re entitled to. I’m thankful to our partners at the state and federal levels who have played an integral role in making the UI application simpler for our constituents and creating a model for other states to follow,” said Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo.

“The new application is a significant step toward our overarching goal of building an agile, modular system that allows us to easily make changes as the need arises,” he said. “.This isn’t a one-and-done deal. We’re building a system that is able to make fixes and add features to adapt to claimant needs and policy changes, because modernization should never be over.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs