Louisiana’s unemployment website back online after malware attack

By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor

Louisiana’s unemployment website is back online after an attempted malware attack forced systems in dozens of states to shut down internet services.

Geographic Solutions, the state vendor for the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s online labor exchanges and unemployment claims systems, discovered an attempted malware attack that impacted as many as 40 other states that contract with the company.

The issue forced the LWC to shut down its HiRE website on June 29, putting roughly 11,000 unemployed Louisianans who file claims through the system in limbo, though state officials said their data was not compromised. Officials encouraged claimants to file their weekly claims by phone.

The site is also used by about 76,000 unemployed Louisianans to search for jobs and other functions.

The LWC announced the systems were back online Tuesday, but warned that new security features implemented by the vendor could delay payments by up to three days.

“Claimants, new and returning, can now file claims online and payments will start processing soon. As a result of new vendor security features, payments could take up to 36 hours to process. No additional action is required for claimants,” according to a LWC statement.

“Payment of benefits will appear on your HiRE account, but deposit availability is different for each institution,” the LWC wrote. “You can check your HiRE account online to verify that your weekly benefit amount has been processed.”

LWC officials said last Wednesday they expected the system to be restored “within the next 72 hours.”

The malware attack came just days after the LWC highlighted a not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.6% for May, the second lowest in history.

That figure is 0.1% higher than the revised rate for April 2022, and a decrease of 2.5% from May 2021’s rate of 6.1%.

The number of unemployed individuals increased by 2,071 from April to May 2022, when they totaled 75,963. That number is 49,472 fewer than the same month last year.

The number of not-seasonally adjusted employed individuals totaled 2,020,069 in May, down 3,512 from April.

All of Louisiana’s nine large metropolitan areas posted increases in the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate between April and May. The Hammond area showed the highest rate at 4.4%, while the Alexandria area was the lowest at 2.7%.

While unemployment remains very low, the benefits received are buying less than in years past.

Louisiana was named the top state impacted by raging inflation in a recent study produced by the small business website Merchant Maverick.

“Burdened by the highest sales tax rate in the nation (tied with Tennessee) and one of the lowest median household incomes ($51,707, the lowest in the nation after Mississippi), the Bayou State has suffered dearly under the current inflationary economic circumstances,” according to the report.

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