The Legislative Finance Committee on Tuesday reported that the State of New Mexico overpaid unemployment benefits by $250 million. The state has seen unprecedented unemployment claims during the pandemic. The committee reports that the Department of Workforce Solutions is understaffed and had a backlog of investigations into possible fraudulent claims. Not to mention, lack of training of staff and incorrect interpretation of laws aimed at holding employers harmless from layoffs during the pandemic.
A collision of human error, low staffing, and fraudulent unemployment claims has the State of New Mexico overpaying unemployment claims by $250 million. And, let us not forget that the state took out a $270 million dollar loan to support high unemployment claims due to job loss during the pandemic. The Albuquerque Journal noted this morning that “in addition, the report cited outside audits that found jobless benefit determination errors, likely caused by low staffing levels and training issues, and incorrect interpretation of both federal guidance and a state law aimed at holding employers harmless from layoffs that occurred during the pandemic.”
The state law referenced by the legislative finance committee’s report holding employer’s harmless was the direct result of NMBC’s ongoing work to protect businesses during the 2021 legislative session. We are pleased to see that legislators are acknowledging the missteps of enforcement and taking corrective action to address the issue. This is the just the latest development in NMBC’s effort to help NM businesses recover from the pandemic.