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Jobless payments top the $30 billion mark statewide

Glitches addressed, overtime hours accruing at service center

State unemployment officials say they are working out glitches for those who have tried to receive jobless payments, adding the state has paid $30.6 billion in unemployment compensation since March 15.

The 3 million-plus claims were due mostly to the COVID-19 pandemic and impacts it has on the job market, according to Jerry Oleksiak, secretary of the state Department of Labor and Industry, and Susan Dickinson director of the Office of Unemployment Compensation Benefits Policy.

Most notably, the department paid $12 billion in regular unemployment compensation and another $14.5 billion, which is the federal pandemic unemployment compensation, or the $600 a week extra, which has ended, Oleksiak said.

Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Treasury Secretary, said if someone was making $300 a week, they won’t be getting $600.

“And that’s fair,” Mnuchin told reporters last week.

At the state office, those who haven’t received payment or are waiting for it are asked to remain vigilant and persevere.

“While we are proud of getting money to those who applied for unemployment compensation we are not truly satisfied until every person who is eligible is made whole,” Oleksiak said.

Much of the delay is because of the amount of applicants whose cases must be reviewed individually, he said.

Other problems result from incomplete and inaccurate applications on file, he noted.

Some people believe, because they are not working, they automatically qualify for unemployment and that is not always the case, Oleksiak said.

To address the backlog and delays, the department has doubled its staffing at the service center and has logged 216 overtime hours since March 15, he said.

Dickinson said the department has improved on its telephone call system and email responses while at the same time battling fraud caused by individuals whose claims were investigated and shown not to be valid.

The department is holding virtual town halls with another live stream at 1 p.m. Thursday, accessible via the Department of Labor and Industry’s website.

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