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As I See It

Still waiting for unemployment? You’re not alone

Scott Robert Shaw

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We knew it was bad. We couldn’t have imagined it was this bad. Shortly after the pandemic and the subsequent economic fallout began, many people in Wisconsin were forced out of work. We quickly heard of the struggles by those who found themselves applying for unemployment. They said they tried to call to apply for benefits, but couldn’t get through to the Department of Workforce Development. Turns out they weren’t alone. An audit by the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau shows 95% of calls from those hoping to apply for unemployment went unanswered for months. Six percent of the total calls led to callers hanging up after getting frustrated with the lack of answers. In the end, only 0.5% of all calls were actually answered. That is deplorable and inexcusable. Even though it became apparent early on the agency in charge of processing claims was overwhelmed, it was months before they added new staff. And when they did, they only brought in 41 more people. Hardly enough to help the 90,000 people still waiting for benefits. Governor Evers finally called for and received the resignation of the agency’s boss, but that doesn’t solve the problem. The audit makes it clear how bad the problem is. Now the question is what will Governor Evers do to solve it?

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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