FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The state’s phone and online unemployment insurance systems remain overloaded and shut down Tuesday afternoon, almost a day after the closure of in-person dining at bars and restaurants started putting a hit on the state’s economy and employment.
A call to the unemployment line at 3 p.m. Tuesday revealed it still was not operating. The recording gets to a point where it tells callers the information they will need to file a claim and then tells the caller the system is experiencing technical difficulties and says, “Goodbye.”
Beshear acknowledged the difficulties during his press briefing Tuesday evening and said the state hoped to have them addressed “soon.” The state is increasing staffing to try to accommodate the increased demand but it’s unclear when the overload might be resolved.
“We are working on it as fast as we can. We are building up as fast as we can. We’ve never seen anything like this,” Beshear said Tuesday evening.
“We understand your anxiety and we want to help you as soon as we can,” he continued.
The state added 45 new employees Tuesday and increased server capacity five-fold.
Normally the state processes 2,000 claims a week. It processed 9,000 Tuesday alone.
Starting Wednesday, a new form will be available online that can be filled out and turned in and it will be processed. The state also is starting to take signups by alphabet. That list is on the state Web site.
Earlier in the week, Beshear announced the state is waiving the mandatory one week waiting period for unemployment benefits for people who lost their jobs because of the virus, and is waiving the job-search requirement that is part of receiving benefits.
Normally, workers receive their first unemployment check two weeks after they apply, but only receive one week’s payment for one of those two weeks. The state’s new policy changes that to two weeks.
The state will accept unemployment insurance applications from people who lost their jobs because they are in quarantine, and from people whose employer shut down because of coronavirus.
Restaurant and bar owners and managers have expressed over the impact of the coronavirus-related orders will have on their businesses and staffs. Many have closed rather than try to depend on carry-out and delivery orders. Others say they aren’t sure how much of their staff those services can sustain.
While bars and restaurants have gotten the most attention, state government also has ordered day care centers to close by Friday, and urged dentists and similar businesses to stop many services.
All is likely to result in layoffs that could last weeks. President Donald Trump has said the initiatives to limit groups of more than 10 people could take until July or August to fully work.
“We know the steps we are taking are going to cause people to lose their jobs,” Beshear said Monday. “We want you to be able to qualify for unemployment and we don’t want to create impediments that keep you from being able to get through this. We are going to make sure we get through this together.”
When the system is working, people can apply for unemployment benefits by calling 502-875-0442 or online by visiting the Kentucky Career’s Center unemployment benefits page at https://kcc.ky.gov/career.