Press Release
September 24, 2020

U.S. Department of Labor honors Utah as top-performing state for unemployment and appeals operations
Utah sweeps national awards for excellence in unemployment insurance appeals decisions, tax operations, benefit payments and program integrity

SALT LAKE CITY (Sept. 24, 2020) — The U.S. Department of Labor recognized the Utah Department of Workforce Services today with four performance excellence awards for unemployment insurance appeals decisions, tax operations, benefit payments and program integrity. The national recognition distinguishes Utah as a top-performing state for operating its unemployment insurance and appeals programs more effectively, faster and with greater integrity than other medium-sized states.

The award ceremony recognized the Workforce Services’ Appeals Division for resolving issues and providing fair hearings in an efficient and timely manner. The division ensures all those involved in an unemployment insurance case receive due process. The Appeals Division is an autonomous, quasi-judicial agency whose primary function is to hear and decide appeals of Workforce Services’ decisions concerning unemployment insurance benefits, as well as other temporary supportive services.

“We are humbled and grateful to be recognized for our hard work. The Appeals team continues to provide high quality due process to the citizens of Utah in the most efficient and timely way, even when facing the seemingly insurmountable increase of work due to the pandemic,” said Kathy Bounous, director of the Appeals Division. “I am blessed to have such amazing staff who always step up to the plate, no matter what challenges come, and knock the ball out of the park.  Here’s to another year of being the best!”

In addition, Workforce Services’ Unemployment Insurance Division was honored for its management of tax operations and benefit payments, as well as awarded for its program integrity. In Utah, more than 88,000 employers make contributions to a trust fund through the state unemployment insurance tax. These funds are used exclusively to pay benefits to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. Nearly 300,000 claims have been filed for unemployment benefits between July 2019 and June 2020.

“We are incredibly grateful for the national recognition and are proud of the way we serve Utahns with both integrity and accuracy,” said Kevin Burt, director of the Unemployment Insurance Division. “These awards show just how incredible the staff are at what they do, with their dedicated efforts standing out even more during the overwhelming demand seen with this pandemic. They are amazing and certainly deserve the recognition.”

The awards were presented at the virtual National Workforce Summit and Unemployment Insurance Directors' Conference. For more information about Utah’s Unemployment Insurance Program,