The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced July 8 that it would triple the number of staff, enabling the department to increase the rate at which calls are answered and claims decided. DWD also expanded its hours of operation. On weekdays, from 6:15 am to 5:30 pm staff in the help center will take calls. Saturdays, from 7 am to 1:30 pm, staff will also take calls.
On July 7, the DWD released data on the unemployment cases in the week ending July 4. Three million nine hundred sixty-nine thousand eight hundred and thirty claims were received. Of those claims 75 percent were allowed and paid, 12 percent were denied and 13 percent were in process. Those cases in process are awaiting wage verification and adjudication.
Paula is a worker who quit a job that could not provide her enough protection from the coronavirus.
“I was working for a restaurant that is right, actually, by the highway, so we have a lot of out-of-state people. So usually it is a quite busy restaurant. I worked there for two years. Because my mom is living abroad in Macau, where I grew up, I kinda was a part of what was going on there. So I started getting really nervous about the situation, about the virus, because I have lupus. I got scared because there was no protection,” Paula said.
After applying, and waiting, she was finally able to talk to someone. She was honest about her health, and her future at the company.
“Everything was done online first. And then they told me that I was approved for $294 weekly. It was my benefit. And then I heard nothing for a month,” said Paula.
Despite that initial response from her online application, Paula did not receive those benefits during that month.
“In the process, a lady called and asked me the reasons why I quit my job, and said that she never got feedback from the restaurants that I worked for, asking me what was my situation, why did I quit the job. I mentioned my lupus and I mentioned, you know, not growing in the company, and that’s what they want by – not growing in the company,” Paula told us.
“Not growing in the company” was not considered a valid reason to qualify for unemployment, and Paula’s application was denied.
Data reported by DWD shows almost 12 percent of claims are denied.