KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The process of filing for unemployment looks different for everyone and impacts each person applying differently, too.
In less than a month, Tennessee reached a peak for unemployment filings of more than 250,000. Numbers that are typically reached in 125 weeks, now reached in three weeks, according to Dr. Bill Fox, Director of the Boyd Center for Business & Economic Research.
Fox says adjusting the technology and the policy has taken time, but it is moving along.
“The softwares weren’t built for pandemics either. They’re having to adapt in real time… adapting to new groups, and new kinds of payments like $600 from the federal government,” said Dr. Fox.
Some in the middle of this process are still waiting to receive benefits, like Julie Bradley.
Bradley worked in an auto manufacturing plant and received her last paycheck in March. Now, she says she’s waiting for more details on her unemployment application to move forward.
“This morning when I [called], I was 312, it got down to 60, I got back on when I got back home I was 488 [in line],” said Bradley.
She’s describing some of the delays she says she’s faced in this process. Unable to connect with representatives with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, she is concerned about the timeline of when she’s to receive payment.
“I’m not worried about the bills… but you still have to be able to buy food even if you can’t pay your bills,” said Bradley.
She calls the process “frustrating” but says she understands there are thousands like her attempting to do the same thing.
These delays are, hopefully, short-term as a spokesperson for the Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development says the state is making adjustments to the process to make it faster.
The Dept. of Labor has approximately 1,000 employees.
In addition to staff that traditionally works in the Unemployment Division, which is several hundred people, there are an additional 310 people working unemployment claims and customer service.Chris Cannon, Dept. Labor and Workforce Development
The demand on the Jobs4TN.gov website is peakimg, due to thousands of visits to the site everyday. As such, the demand created “response issues”, according to the state, that are currently in the process of being fixed.
The state is working to start a staggered certification schedule. This would allow claimants to certify based on the last digit of their social security number.
At the same time, a spokesperson says the state is working with the website vendor to expand the capacity of the site.
The department added another 50 call agents this week to help improve customer response times from call centers.
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