All in a Day’s Work
Unemployment Expert Michele Evermore ’16MS Joins Biden Administration
Bloomberg News recently dubbed Michele Evermore ’16MS an “unemployment insurance guru,” and the Biden administration is hoping to leverage her wisdom and experience as a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), a role she assumed in February. This newly created position within the Employment and Training Administration was developed in response to the historic increase in jobless claims as a result of COVID-19.
Evermore, who earned a master’s degree in labor studies from UMass, has a long history of worker advocacy, including as a senior policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a workers’ rights group. Evermore previously served as a legislative advocate for several labor unions, including National Nurses United and the Service Employees International Union District 1199 New England. Her background also includes a decade of service as a legislative aide to former Senator Tom Harkin.
In the spring of 2020, as the full impact of COVID-19 on labor was still coming into focus, Evermore argued before Congress and in the media that robust unemployment benefits were critical in helping workers navigate the brewing economic storm—particularly for Black Americans and members of other racial minorities. In a NELP policy brief titled “Long Lines for Unemployment: How Did We Get Here and What Do We Do Now?” Evermore cited the unequal effect that restrictions on unemployment benefits were having on communities of color—a position widely supported by employment statistics that emerged in the following months.
Evermore’s predictive skills and policy positions seem to have won over many at both the White House and the DOL, as suggested by recent coverage from Bloomberg’s Daily Labor Report. “[H]er selection sends a signal that the Biden administration may be looking to close gaps in jobless aid coverage and assume a more proactive role in assisting states that have been struggling to efficiently pay claims over the past few months,” reported the news outlet shortly after her appointment.
Since assuming her post within the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration, Evermore has continued to critique individual states’ unemployment insurance infrastructure. In particular, she has cited complex claims processes as being significant barriers for unemployed workers in need of benefits. “Some of these processes are very close to how it would be handled in the 1970s,” Evermore recently told Politico. “The questions are confusing. The interface is clunky. People are timed out, and they can’t go back to a question when they’ve realized they’ve answered it incorrectly.” Her recent media appearances seem to indicate that Evermore is determined to remain a fierce advocate for the unemployed—though this time, from the inside.