A new audit released on Monday found that the Louisiana Workforce Commission made $2.9 million in improper unemployment payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack and his office reviewed unemployment benefits paid out from February 2020 through April 2021. As of this past August 27, the state labor department, also known as the Louisiana Workforce Commission, had not established overpayment cases to track down the improper payments.

Nearly $2 million of the improper payments in the audit involved people who received jobless benefits that exceeded the maximum weekly amount allowed.

By law, unemployment claimants can only receive benefits from either the state or federal government. The audit found that $898,400 was paid to people illegally enrolled in multiple unemployment benefits programs.

Another $33,536 in payments was made to those who received duplicate benefits in the same week.

In a written response, Louisiana Workforce Commission Secretary Ava Cates said "mistakes are inevitable" with new temporary federal programs created during the pandemic that expanded eligibility and payment amounts.

Cates also noted that her agency has paid nearly $10 billion in unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic. She did say, however, that her agency will be working to recoup funds from people who were improperly paid.

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