HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Another week and a longer email backlog for the Unemployment Compensation office. It’s now at 44 days, as close to 1.9 million unemployment claims have been filed since March 15th. That’s in addition to the 266,000 filed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
“I did email them again, but I’m not holding my breath,” said Rachel Joseph, who owns a hair salon.
“By the time we’re done training the crew that we have now, and bringing people in from other agencies, we’re going to have about 1,200 people answering phones, processing claims, and working on the backlog of emails,” said Jerry Oleksiak, Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry.
So far, 76 percent of Pennsylvanians who have filed for traditional unemployment during this pandemic have been paid. That number is right around 90 percent for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
“I signed up for direct deposit, which a lot of people did, and it didn’t go there, so it said paid, and it wasn’t there, so then I had to track down where it was,” said Joseph.
Joseph’s payments ended up being mailed to her. If you have a question, the PUA phone line still doesn’t work, but should, sometime this week. Meanwhile, the PEUC program went live over the weekend. It provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits to people who exhausted their regular unemployment.
“There are some who are being told that their claim is inactive, so we’re looking into the solution for those,” said Susan Dickinson, Director of Unemployment Compensation Benefits Policy.
The Unemployment Compensation office takes about 20,000 calls a week. In addition to new hires, the Department of Labor and Industry says it’s working on a long term plan to better deal with these claims, but those details are still being worked out.