The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development released updates to its Unemployment Insurance application to make it easier for New Jerseyans to apply for unemployment benefits.
The updates released April 29 were designed and developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Digital Service, NJDOLWD’s Division of Information Technology, and the New Jersey Office of Innovation. The updates allow workers to apply easily from their cell phones, and increase accessibility for those using screen readers or other assistive technologies.
“I’m thrilled to release these changes that make it easier for users to access and interact with the application, and help New Jersey workers feel more confident they understood the questions being asked,” said NJDOLWD Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo in a prepared statement.
To develop the changes, the state and federal government entities worked alongside residents to observe where the application questions were often misunderstood. These misunderstandings eventually caused applicants to have to wait to find out if they were eligible for benefits. The changes — including simplified questions, bigger text and answer buttons, and the introduction of helper text — were informed by user-testing with New Jersey workers and Unemployment Insurance applicants.
More questions and answers will be re-worded moving forward using agile software development, which introduces improvements continually. NJDOLWD will learn and adjusting the experience for unemployment insurance applicants over the next month.
“We are putting New Jerseyans at the center of every decision that goes into building an improved Unemployment Insurance experience. This is the only way we can ensure that we design a system that delivers support to New Jerseyans when they most expect it and provides confidence that their government is working for them,” added New Jersey State Chief Innovation Officer Beth Simone Noveck in a prepared statement. “This new approach is made possible through a first-of-its-kind collaborative effort by the United States Digital Service, the U.S. Department of Labor, NJDOL, NJOIT and the Office of Innovation — I am deeply thankful for their partnership and dedication to delivering a quality digital service that New Jerseyans deserve.”
The updated application represents a first step in the ongoing collaboration between New Jersey and its federal partners to improve the experience of workers who apply for unemployment benefits.
“Ultimately, claimants across the country will benefit from the improvements being designed and developed in New Jersey,” the announcement said. “New Jersey was chosen to lead this national effort for several reasons: The state consistently leads the nation in the percentage of unemployed workers who successfully receive benefits; NJDOL has a successful working relationship with USDOL and USDS; it received an extraordinary number of unemployment applications (roughly 2.5 million) since March of 2020; and it found innovative solutions to paying benefits during a time of unprecedented demand.”