With nearly 17 million Americans seeking unemployment benefits, the challenge to file online has been daunting.
A report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) found that 86% of state-run unemployment websites failed on at least one criterion for mobile access such as page-load speed, mobile friendliness, and accessibility. At least half of the sites crashed under heavy traffic since mid-March, ITIF said in a report.
ITIF said one-third of state unemployment websites aren’t optimized for use with smartphones and tablets which poses a problem for 20% of Americans that access the internet from home only by using a mobile device.
The report said that state unemployment websites perform well on desktop load speeds, while mobile load speeds are poor.
ITIF provided a list of unemployment website crashes reported in 26 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
“State governments should design cloud-based websites and applications that are scalable and can withstand surges in traffic,” said ITIF research analyst Michael McLaughlin. He said Congress needs to provide funding for states to modernize their websites. “E-government services will be particularly important during future physical distancing and emergencies.”
Some states have put out a call for COBOL programmers to update their unemployment benefit systems. Many of the systems were built decades ago and not all the system components have been updated since COBOL was first used in the early 1960s.