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Kentuckians turned away after learning in-person unemployment help unavailable Tuesday

Posted at 7:33 PM, Jun 23, 2020

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentuckians, once again, waited in line Tuesday morning to get in-person unemployment help in Frankfort.

Some said they waited overnight or drove a couple of hours to get assistance on their unemployment insurance issues.

However, at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, a Labor Cabinet employee told the line of people that in-person help was not available and that UI staff was not even in the building.

LEX 18 spoke to several people who were frustrated and confused by the announcement.

"Look at all these people," Pecola Cowan, who arrived in Frankfort at 1 a.m., said. "What are we supposed to do? If you're not seeing us and processing our paperwork then how are we supposed to get any income if we're unemployed and laid off?"

Michelle Schroering, who arrived in Frankfort at 6 a.m., said she was angry that people weren't notified that the office was closed until 9 a.m., especially considering some had been waiting for hours.

"It's wrong," Michelle Schroering, who arrived in Frankfort at 6 a.m., said. "Everybody else is still getting paid. I'm sure they're still getting paid. I'm sure everybody is still getting paid, except for all these people on unemployment who are supposed to be getting these checks."

Some said the confusion came from the State's mixed messages. For example, signs that were used in the days prior to direct people where to stand were still posted around the building.

Also, the Kentucky Career Center tweeted, "Walk-up services will not be available on Monday". The day was set aside for appointments only, but walk-ins showed up and were helped.

Therefore, some said they hoped they, too, would get lucky Tuesday. Instead, they learned their unemployment nightmare was still not over.

Labor Cabinet staff directed people to put their names and phone numbers down on lists, and they told folks they would be prioritized for callbacks.

LEX 18 asked the Governor's Office why the help was not available today and has not heard back.

On Monday, the Office released an update on unemployment, which said, "We continue to face difficulties with our unemployment system, due to it being starved of funds and outdated in the past," the Governor said. "That is making our job of processing a record number of claims very hard."

Gov. Beshear explained last week that the state's unemployment office budget went from $41 million in 2010 to $25 million in 2018. Beshear also noted that the state cut 22 of 51 local unemployment offices and 95 employees in 2017.

Remedies to improve the system include:

  • Moving the unemployment office to the Labor Cabinet
  • Contracting with an outside vendor to train more claim processors and answer more public questions
  • Adding more in-person services.

The Governor said that transferring the office to the Labor Cabinet will be beneficial because the "entire cabinet will be working day in and out to solve these claims".
Details for more in-person services, both in Frankfort and in outside counties, have not yet been announced.