Appleton couple gets disconnect when calling for unemployment

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The Department of Health is certainly being inundated with calls during this pandemic but another state agency is just as overwhelmed.

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has seen a sharp increase in calls for unemployment claims.

Troy Hiller listens to his third busy signal in a row when calling DWD, but Hiller says the busy signals aren’t the worst of it.

Hiller says, “you get to where you think that you’re actually going to get a person but instead a recording says we are overloaded with calls and kicks you out and hangs up.”

Troy is a furloughed sheet metal worker and describes what many Wisconsinites are experiencing when calling for unemployment.

Troy says its no better online, “we’ve been on the website which has actually crashed due to an overload of people.”

Andrea Brown is a furloughed restaurant worker. She’s stuck in a loop when trying to complete her unemployment application.

Brown says she started her unemployment application online but can’t receive any benefits until she gets through to a person.

Brown says, “I’ve managed to get my unemployment claim filed on the computer but they are not moving forward with my benefits until I can speak with somebody on the phone.”

There have been more than 115,000 unemployment claims filed and over 1.5 million calls last week which has inundated the Department of Workforce Development and aggravated callers.

Brown says, “I’m extremely frustrated and it’s not only myself and Troy but of all the people I work with I think only one of them has received their benefits already. So we’re all in this holding pattern of our benefits pending.”

To help with the spike in unemployment claims Governor Evers wants to offer some assistance.

Evers says, “DWD has increased their phone capacity to allow 690 simultaneous calls. They’ve also
expanded staff capacity at the DWD call center from 57 staff to 92 staff, but they’re going to need
even more help. DWD needs at least 80 additional staff to help triage calls for unemployment.
We need legislature to get rid of the one week waiting period before folks can start receiving
benefits.”

Waiving the one-week requirement to receive unemployment may be gaining bipartisan support; Republican Senator Andre Jacque introduced a similar bill last week.

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