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As I See It

No surprise Wisconsin having problems processing unemployment claims

Scott Robert Shaw



Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce development was overwhelmed with calls and applications for unemployment when so many lost their jobs amid the pandemic. Many people, more than two months later, still haven’t received any benefits to which they are entitled. Others can’t even get through to speak to someone about filing an application. More than 675,000 applications for unemployment in Wisconsin are still unpaid, some two months after the claims were filed. We couldn’t have predicted the pandemic or its economic impact, but we could have predicted that Wisconsin was not ready for a surge in unemployment applications. An audit by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau from seven years ago found more than sixty percent of calls to the Department of Workforce Development did not go through. Making matters worse, the agency uses computer software that dates back to the 1950s and is run through a mainframe that dates back to the 1970s. The state is bringing in workers from other departments and opening call centers to help process applications.  But still, delays continue. Clearly Wisconsin has not made fielding unemployment applications a priority, even when so many people are suddenly out of work.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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