Frustrations remain high among Wisconsinites who continue to wait for unemployment benefits as a result of losing their job because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development continues to have a backlog of cases and still blames an aging COBOL computer system as a reason benefits can't be paid. However, a recent survey found that at least 12 states still use COBOL in some capacity in their unemployment systems. Actually Alaska, Connecticut, California, Iowa, Kansas and Rhode Island all run on the computer language and appear to have made it work better than Wisconsin did.
Republicans have been calling on DWD to increase call center hours. Only just recently, the call center operations were extended to 5 p.m.; there's still no second shift or weekend calls. The legislature has learned the benefit call center will have a total of 500 agents by the end of the month. With initial UI applications declining for nine weeks in a row, these new agents are coming online a little too late.
It's time to go the extra mile for the thousands of people who are still waiting to get their unemployment benefits.The backlog of claims need to be processed. Calls should no longer be blocked or dropped. Wisconsin families have been depending on this assistance, and DWD has failed to do an adequate job for our citizens who are struggling economically because of the coronavirus pandemic.