Some people in Wisconsin who are waiting on an unemployment check could be waiting until October. The Department of Workforce Development says it could take that long to clear the backlog of people waiting to have their jobless claims processed.
The agency says the current unemployment claims backlog stands at 112-thousand cases. State Senator Chris Kapenga says D-W-D needs to figure out how to erase that backlog as quickly as possible.
“I am completely confused as to why someone who filed for unemployment insurance eight weeks ago has not had their data put into a batch to be processed by COBOL.”
The state’s unemployment program has been struggling to handle all the claims that have been made since the state of the pandemic, and there’s a good reason, according to DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman.
He laid out just how hard the unemployment system was hit at the start of the pandemic. “Perhaps it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways, our call systems were not built to handle 5.8 million calls a week which is a 20-000 percent increase over last year’s busiest week.”
Frostman says his office has already made fantastic efforts to handle the massive influx of claims.
“We increased the capacity for our Help Center by 200% in 10 days by adding two additional session border controllers and performing load balancing. Ordering processes that normally took one month were reduced to 28 hours, and we’re now able to accept 160 calls per second, and handle 690 simultaneous calls.”
“Once we stop accepting new calls each evening, our staff still completes hours of work to clear the call queues, process claims, call back claimants, and issue payments ahead of the nightly ACH deadline,” he told a committee panel on Wednesday.
Frostman says the bottlenecks in processing are entirely down to not having enough people who are properly vetted under state and federal statutes to do the work of actually processing claims.