For Immediate Release | December 22, 2020


Elaine Weiss at 202-243-7280

The nonpartisan National Academy of Social Insurance has launched a Task Force on Unemployment Insurance (UI) to help policymakers across the country and new federal leaders improve key aspects of the UI program. Over the next 8-10 months, the 19 members of the UI Task Force (see list below) will identify, assess, evaluate, and document a range of options to address weaknesses in the UI system.

“The Academy’s goal with this Task Force is to equip policymakers with the evidence and framework needed to restructure and strengthen UI by providing a range of options to make the UI system more effective, efficient, and equitable,” said William Arnone, Chief Executive Officer of the Academy.

According to Elaine Weiss, the Academy’s Policy Director: “Unemployment Insurance could be improved to address systemic racism in the labor market and to better protect the incomes of all workers and their families. A restructured UI system will do more to reduce poverty in times of crisis, such as what we’re experiencing today, and more effectively cushion the economy.”

Academy Senior Fellow and widely recognized UI expert Steven Wandner will serve as Principal Investigator, supported by Task Force co-chairs Michele Evermore, of the National Employment Law Project, and Till von Wachter, of UCLA. Together, they will guide the Task Force’s review of extensive existing research and various suggested reforms.

“I am thrilled that the Academy is convening this thoughtful group of experts to explore ways to improve the nation’s unemployment insurance system, which has been frustrating and insufficient for many workers and at the same time, a critical lifeline for others,” said Michele Evermore.

“In California during the COVID-19 crisis we have seen up close the importance of Unemployment Insurance – and the human cost of not addressing the system's well-known shortcomings,” said Till von Wachter. “By bringing together UI researchers and practitioners, this Task Force will deliver actionable recommendations for UI reform at a time when they are needed most.”

UI Task Force members include experts in federal UI administration, state UI implementation, Social Security administration, labor policy, and practical support for jobless workers, as well as actuaries.


Unemployment Insurance Task Force Members

Co-Chair: Michele Evermore, Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst, National Employment Law Project

Co-Chair: Till von Wachter, Professor, University of California Los Angeles

Principal Investigator: Stephen Wandner, Senior Fellow, National Academy of Social Insurance

David Balducchi, U.S. Department of Labor, retired

Kathryn Bakich, Senior Vice President, The Segal Group

Elizabeth Bauer, FSA, Forbes Senior Contributor and independent actuary

Judy Chesser, Social Security Administration, retired

Calvin Colbert, Vice President, Challenger, Gray & Christmas

Althea Erickson, Vice President of Global Public Policy & Impact, Etsy

Debra Fitzpatrick, Policy and Legislative Affairs Director, Children’s Defense Fund

Ben Gitis, Senior Policy Analyst, Bipartisan Policy Center

Heidi Hartmann, Distinguished Economist In-Residence for Gender and Economic Analysis, American University

Shaun O’Brien, Assistant Director, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

Christopher O’Leary, Senior Economist, Upjohn Institute

Rob Pavosevich, U.S. Department of Labor, retired

Ralph E. Smith, Congressional Budget Office, retired

William Spriggs, Chief Economist, AFL-CIO

Andrew Stettner, Senior Fellow, Century Foundation

James Van Erden, Senior Policy Advisor, National Association of State Workforce Agencies

Since the National Academy of Social Insurance was founded in 1986, it has provided rigorous inquiry and insights into the functioning of our nation’s social insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation. Comprised of over 1,100 Members – the nation’s top experts in social insurance and related policies and programs – the Academy studies how social insurance can continue to meet the changing needs of American families, employees, and employers, including uninsured or underinsured economic risks. To learn more about the Academy’s work, please visit, or follow @socialinsurance on Twitter.

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