Louisiana audit reveals $ 2.9 million in inappropriate unemployment payments

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (AP) – Louisiana paid out $ 2.9 million in unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic that did not appear to follow state and federal regulations governing the program, according to an audit released Monday.

Mike Waguespack’s Legislative Auditor The office reviewed unemployment benefits paid from February 2020 to April 2021. Auditors said they identified inappropriate payments that the state’s Department of Labor, known as the Louisiana Workforce Commission, had not yet attempted. to remember until August.

Almost $ 2 million of the inappropriate payments in the audit concerned people receiving unemployment benefits that exceeded the maximum weekly amount allowed.

In a written response, Louisiana Workforce Board Secretary Ava Cates said “mistakes are inevitable” with the new temporary federal programs created during the pandemic that have expanded eligibility and payment amounts. But she said her agency will work to recover funds from low-paid people.

Auditors examined the unemployment program due to the increase in the number of unemployed during the pandemic, which largely emptied the state trust fund for unemployment.

The state paid $ 9.8 billion in state and federal unemployment assistance to more than 794,000 people from late March 2020 to July 2021, according to the report. Lawmakers used federal aid to bail out the fund and keep it solvent.

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