Contact: Amy Hasenberg, (608) 266-2839

Total estimated UI tax savings up to nearly $700 million since 2013, saving money for tens of thousands of WI businesses

MADISON – Governor Scott Walker today announced that Wisconsin’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund reached a positive balance surpassing $1.65 billion in May, representing a near-reversal from the fund’s lowest point of $1.68 billion in the red several years ago. This follows the March release of the UI Fraud Report, which showed the percent of UI benefits obtained fraudulently declined by 42 percent while total benefit payments declined by 11 percent when comparing 2017 to 2016. The UI Trust Fund is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and is solely used to pay UI benefits to eligible workers and completely financed by Wisconsin employers that are covered under the program.

“We understand how important this safety net is to workers who lose work through no fault of their own,” Governor Walker said. “By strengthening our economy and implementing policies that combat waste, fraud and abuse in the UI system, we are ensuring that the UI program remains cost-effective and available to those most in need.”

The condition of Wisconsin UI Trust Fund deteriorated during the Great Recession, triggering borrowing from the federal government starting in 2009. The fund was still in the red when Governor Walker took office in January 2011 and reached its lowest point of $1.68 billion shortly thereafter, before a series of UI reforms took effect through the Governor’s leadership and in partnership with the Wisconsin Legislature and the UI Advisory Council to stabilize the fund, implement common-sense reforms to curtail abuse of the system, and grow the economy.

Through the combination of reforms to boost UI program integrity and accountability, as well as a vastly improved state economy, Wisconsin rebuilt its Trust Fund, triggering three declines in the UI tax schedule since tax year 2016 and saving the state’s approximately 140,000 covered employers a combined $165 million:

2016: $97 million
2017: $38 million
2018: $30 million (Estimated)

Total savings: $165 million

Additionally, six years of employment and job growth have brought the state’s unemployment rate down from its peak of 9.3 percent in 2010 to a historic low of 2.9 percent in April 2018. In 2018, initial UI claims are running at their lowest levels in over 30 years, and the number of unemployed Wisconsinites employed and actively participating in the state’s civilian labor force has reached all-time highs. Due to these and other indicators of a strong economy, employers have improved their UI tax account standing which has resulted in an additional $534 million in UI tax savings through tax years 2013-18:

2013: $88 million
2014: $87 million
2015: $65 million
2016: $119 million
2017: $108 million
2018: $67 million (Estimated)

Total savings: $534 million

“The integrity of the UI Trust Fund has been and remains a top priority for this administration,” DWD Secretary Ray Allen said. “Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in transforming Wisconsin’s UI Program and Trust Fund to a national leader in program integrity and customer service.”

Learn more about DWD’s program integrity efforts in the 2017 UI Fraud Report.

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