Gov. Ned Lamont and Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) Commissioner Danté Bartolomeo on Wednesday touted the launch of the state’s new unemployment benefits and tax system, ReEmployCT.
ReEmployCT, which went live on Tuesday, is part of Lamont’s effort to modernize state government and make it more user-friendly. It follows the administration’s decision to digitize nearly two dozen transactions with the Department of Motor Vehicles, shortening wait times for those who still need to visit in person.
Bartolomeo said the new unemployment system cost roughly $60 million, with about $35 million coming from the federal government and the other $25 million from the state.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Bartolomeo said more than 20,000 people had registered in the system, and 7,600 people have been certified to receive weekly benefits. ReEmployCT is fully virtual, mobile-friendly, and accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The system can be used by both filers and employers.
The state has been in talks about modernizing components of the 40-year-old system since the 1980’s, Bartolomeo said. The new website has been in the works since 2016.
Daryle Dudzinski, deputy commissioner at CTDOL, said the technology used to build ReEmployCT is used by the federal government and meets the “highest standards.”
Lamont, who attended the press conference Wednesday, said that during the height of the pandemic, the labor department went from 40,000 claims to 400,000 claims in a one-week period. He said the new system will make it easier for residents to file for benefits if another emergency or recession were to arise.
Bartolomeo said 9/11, the Great Recession, and other events slowed down the process of revamping the system. The new site was close to being completed when the pandemic began in 2020, slowing down the process because CTDOL staff were working around the clock to help the scores of people suddenly out of work.
“We went from administering one unemployment insurance program to eight during the pandemic,” she said. “We administered $10.2 billion to support the economy and support the residents of Connecticut.”
Bartolomeo said some employers could see up to 75% fewer filing requirements, while the improved technology will help with accounting, reporting and data analysis.
Eric Gjede, a member of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and CTDOL’s security advisory board, said he hopes the new system will deliver greater taxpayer return on investment.
Bartolomeo said CTDOL has increased their consumer contact center staff by 60 people if anyone needs assistance or help navigating the new site.