FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Unemployment levels, both in Kentucky and across the United States, have reached record highs over the last few weeks.
During an unemployment update on Monday, Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman said the state is processing an unprecedented amount of claims and payments.
"We have processed twice as many claims since March 8 (than) we did in all of 2019," said Coleman. "Still today - we are averaging about 13,000 new claims being filed every day and about 25,000 phone calls coming into our offices every day."
Due to the increase in claims, some people have run into a frustrating situation as they try to apply for unemployment insurance. However, Coleman said there are things people may unintentionally be doing that could delay their payments.
The big problem is that some people are filing multiple claims, which Coleman said slows the process down.
"If you have applied for unemployment insurance, do not reapply and do not open another claim," said Coleman. "When you do that, it causes your claim and others to slow down and it causes payments to be delayed."
Coleman said a team will be going through duplicate claims to weed them out. This will help the unemployment system work quicker to help people. However, she emphasized that people should not reapply or open another claim unless their benefits have expired.
"The only people who would need to apply for additional support are the people whose original benefits have expired," said Coleman. "So if that's the case, you can reapply. Otherwise, please do not because it will only slow it down for you and everyone else."
In addition, Coleman said there a couple of areas the unemployment office is working to improve this week.
"The first one is that we are reaching out to all of the folks who are past their two week period to receive payment. They are our number one focus this week in our offices," said Coleman. "And secondly, we are working to train an even larger number of folks for our UI staff, so we that can continue to handle those complex issues that keep coming in."
Coleman said more work needs to be done. However, she said progress has been made.
More than 1,000 people are now working in the call center, which has greatly improved the amount of phone calls being answered and it has reduced the wait time.
"While two weeks ago, we could only take on about 1,200 calls a day. As of this week, we are taking on 25,000 calls a day. We are able to actually take on those calls and answer them," said Coleman. "Our wait time went from two hours to six minutes. So we are working diligently to help as many people as we can."
Coleman said one of the most common questions coming into the call center has to do with payment timing. Since this is a concern for many people, the state has now set up an automated call system to update people through that process.
"A lot of the questions that are coming in are 'when can I expect my payment?" said Coleman. "So what we've done is set up an automated call system that will update you on when you can expect your payment, so that those folks don't have to continue to call to ask that question. We made about 6,000 of those calls this week."