4. Innovation

Rhode Island

In response to the federal COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training partnered with the nonprofit Research Improving People’s Lives and Amazon Web Services to develop a cloud-based system to share data and improve management of unemployment claims. This enabled Rhode Island to be among the first states in the nation to provide Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits in the face of record-high employment claims during the COVID-19 crisis. The State’s experiences were documented in the Journal of Digital Government: Research and Practice: Rhode Island’s timely delivery of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits was an estimated cost savings of $502,000 (representing a 411% return on investment).

Back to Work RI is an initiative of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT), designed to train, support, and hire thousands of Rhode Island workers who have been displaced by COVID-19. The state partners directly with employers to ensure participants gain skills they need to secure well-paying jobs in growing industries. The program removes obstacles to participation by providing support services such as childcare and transportation assistance, so that every participant is able to take advantage of these opportunities. While using proven practices, the state is also producing high-impact innovations, such as applying artificial intelligence to connect Rhode Island jobseekers with pathways to careers. To date, more than 7,000 Rhode Islanders have benefitted from the program, and the impact is measured on DLT’s “Back to Work Stat.”

Issue Areas: COVID-19, Economic Mobility, Workforce