Slowest States in Handling Jobless Claims?

May 14, 2020

Labor Department data show Florida lags all other states, with about 74%, of initial claims filed through the week ending April 25 not yet advanced to the insured unemployed caseload. Kentucky also continues to struggle. The 61% of claims that are still unprocessed suggest that many eligible for unemployment benefits aren’t receiving them, and Indiana, the fifth-worst performing state, lags far behind states like Connecticut, Oregon, and New York, all of which have backlogs of less than 20 percent.  

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, in a May 4 press conference, said he requested an investigation of the online unemployment system by Florida’s chief inspector general.

“These are people who just lost their jobs. They don’t know when their next paycheck is coming. This just created a huge, huge source of angst with the public. People need to be able to submit a claim,” the governor said.

Kentucky’s numbers are better than Florida’s, but those who help low-income workers seek unemployment benefits reported similar obstacles.

Nick Maraman, of the Legal Aid Society of Louisville, said the state’s website crashes often, and call centers have long waiting times. The system seems to be improving, but he has one client who has been trying for six to seven weeks to file a claim.

“Normally, I can sit them down and say, ‘File this.’ I feel like I’ve lost a lot of my power as an attorney, when it’s something basic like getting on a website I can’t help them with,” Maraman said.

Unfortunately, the different speeds at which states are rolling out unemployment benefits have workers in some places facing long delays in getting their jobless payments.

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