More than 93 percent of phone calls to the Department of Workforce Development for unemployment insurance claims went unanswered during the first 3-1/2 months of the coronavirus pandemic.
The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau Friday released its review of the Unemployment Insurance call centers.
The audit found that from March 15, 2020, through June 30, 2020, 38.3 million of the 41.1 million total phone calls to the call centers were blocked or received busy signals.
That means only about one in every 200 calls placed the Department of Workforce Development’s call centers during the period were ever answered.
From April 6 through August 22 only 6.6 percent of initial claims were filed by individuals who telephoned the call centers.
“The spike in calls and initial claims that preceded the Governor’s shutdown was a clear forecast of the tsunami of calls and claims that DWD should have absolutely been able to expect when the stay-at-home order was issued,” said state Representative Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem Lakes), the co-chair of the legislature’s Joint Audit Committee, in a press release.
The release of the audit comes just one week after DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman resigned, at the request of Governor Tony Evers.
“DWD continues to work to overcome the unique challenges presented throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is committed to continuous improvement to better serve Wisconsin residents,” said DWD Transition Director Amy Pechacek in a statement. “We appreciate the Legislative Audit Bureau’s review and recommendations provided through this audit, which will improve the transparency and oversight of UI operations both during and after this public health emergency.”