Governor Evers has no new answers for people waiting for unemployment benefits

Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 6:43 PM CDT
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Governor Tony Evers during an afternoon call with reporters did not have any new answers for people waiting to receive unemployment benefits, but urged everyone who is owed benefits will receive them.

People in north-central Wisconsin are regularly contacting NewsChannel 7 saying they have been waiting for several weeks to receive unemployment benefits.

According to the Department of Workforce Development, Wisconsin's unemployment rate went down from 13.6% in April (amended from its first reporting of 14.1% that month) to 12% in May. Last week 25,112 people filed regular initial claims and there were 236,112 regularly weekly claims.

Gov. Evers, while understanding people's frustrations, did not offer any new solutions for individuals facing that problem. He said they have continued to add staff to DWD, 300 more recently, and they now have three call centers. While he said it is not an excuse, he expressed frustration that DWD's outdated computer system was deemed unacceptable years ago and was not replaced.

"There's several hundred thousand of claims that are fraudulent that we still have to go through and make that determination. So, it's hard work, but I don't want to make any excuses. It is not acceptable for us at the state level to be struggling around this issue," he said.

He added they could not have predicted the demand for these benefits prior to the pandemic and they will do their best.

He advises people who are still waiting for benefits to take advantage of funding opportunities the state created with its $2 billion share of the CARES Act money. That includes programs like the Wisconsin Rental Assistance program and Food Insecurity program.

The state is continuously looking at parallel opportunities, like the programs mentioned, to address the needs of people waiting for benefits in the meantime.