Implementation of the EUC08 Reemployment Services and Reemployment Eligibility Assessments Program: Findings from Nine States

Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research
Mar 25, 2015
Authors
Karen Needels, Irma Perez-Johnson, and Adam Dunn, with contributions by: Samina Sattar, Megan Hague Angus, and Claire Smither Wulsin

Key Findings:

  • State administrators and frontline staff uniformly valued the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008 (EUC08) Reemployment Services and Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment (RES/REA) participation mandate, while also acknowledging that some claimants should be exempted.
  •  Staff thought that the mandatory EUC08 RES/REA services were important tools in helping EUC08 claimants achieve reemployment and were well matched to their needs.
  •  Study states relied mostly on in-person introduction to and provision of EUC08 RES/REA services, but they were split in how they bundled the required activities—allowing claimants to complete the mandated services either in a single American Job Center (AJC) visit or over two AJC visits.
  •  In a few study states, successful implementation of the EUC08 RES/REA program might have occurred in part at the expense of other programs.

When the nation is in a recession or recovering from one, Congress often enacts legislation that makes federally funded unemployment benefits available to long-term unemployed workers through a temporary emergency program. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2008 (EUC08) and related legislation provided such benefits in response to the recession that began in December 2007. At the peak of the EUC08 program, long-term unemployment benefits claimants could receive up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, including 53 weeks through the EUC08 program. 

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 required states to provide Reemployment Services and Reemployment and Eligibility Assessments (RES/REAs) to EUC08 claimants not specifically exempted from it. Two distinctive features of the EUC08 RES/REA program were its novelty and scale. Before the program, enforcement of eligibility requirements for or the provision of reemployment services to claimants of emergency unemployment benefits had received little attention. The EUC08 RES/REA program promoted (1) increased scrutiny of eligibility for benefits based on a review of the claimants’ work search activities and (2) increased use of reemployment assistance services. In addition to the work search review, claimants were required to receive (1) an orientation to an American Job Center (AJC) and the reemployment services and other resources available through it, (2) labor market and career information, and (3) an individual skills assessment. In addition, the program was large; according to data reported by states to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), from April 2012 to December 2013, more than 3 million claimants received EUC08 RES/REA services nationwide. 

The study report contains findings from a DOL-sponsored study of the implementation of the EUC08 RES/REA program in nine purposively selected states. The states are diverse on a range of characteristics, such as size of the EUC08 RES/REA program, geographic location, and whether the state had an Unemployment Insurance REA program—a program that is similar to the EUC08 RES/REA program but provides services to claimants earlier in their unemployment periods. The analysis relied primarily on qualitative information collected through discussions with state-level administrators and a subset of frontline staff at one AJC in each state. We also analyzed state-specific reports about the core metrics of the program, such as the numbers of claimants who scheduled and completed program services. The report presents findings about how the states organized and staffed programs, how they provided the mandated services and any additional services they offered, their strategies to foster participation and overcome administrative challenges, and the characteristics and needs of claimants (as perceived by state-level and frontline staff). It also describes lessons from the EUC08 RES/REA program related to staff support for the program, service delivery methods and work search requirements, and implications for designing and implementing similar programs in the future.