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Unemployment Insurance Application Modernization

OOI is helping modernize the NJ State Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance application, making it easier for New Jerseyans to apply for unemployment benefits and streamlining back-end processes. This ongoing work is part of the Resident Experience Initiative.


As the pandemic upended lives and the economy, millions of New Jerseyans were suddenly left unemployed. The unprecedented flood of applications to the State’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) system significantly strained a legacy system that had been underinvested in for decades. Complicated application language, complex state requirements, and ever-changing federal guidelines compounded the challenge of a massive increase in application volume. Residents were frustrated by delays and confused by the process, while State employees struggled to do their work within an inefficient system.

Innovation In Action

Using a resident-first design approach, OOI worked with the NJ State Department of Labor and other partners to launch a new initial claim application. As part of this process, project partners interviewed applicants to understand which application questions were misunderstood and leading to delays in receiving benefits. Working with state and federal partners, OOI tested a series of changes with users including simplified, plain-language questions, bigger text and answer buttons, and the addition of clarifying text. Updates also included ensuring the application is mobile-friendly and meets accessibility design standards. This work also spurred the creation of a new Office of UI Modernization at NJDOL to oversee ongoing and future efforts.

Impact + Metrics

  • Unemployment insurance certification success rates have risen from approximately 63% to 88%, while the average time to complete an application has fallen by 48 minutes.
  • In April of 2024, a completely redesigned UI application was launched with 19% fewer questions, saving residents even more time and increasing the chances that they can apply in one sitting.
  • The new UI identity verification flow, released in late fall 2023, has saved the Department of Labor over $250,000 as of April 2024, and annual savings are projected to be $780,000 for 2024.
  • More than 1.5 million people have used our improved claim status and issue resolution tools to advance their unemployment benefits application - more than 75% of users have been able to resolve open issues on their claim.
  • The legacy weekly certification site has been replaced with a new, simplified site that allows workers to apply for benefits from their phones.


  • The UI application system continues to be updated using agile software development, which continually introduces improvements.

Resources and Additional Information


  • NJ State Department of Labor
  • NJ State Office of Information Technology
  • U.S. Department of Labor
  • United States Digital Service

Last updated on 5/1/24

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