Unemployment Task Force hears testimony Tuesday

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A task force heard testimony Tuesday about the state’s unemployment system and the problems that have plagued it after being hit with an unprecedented number of a claims during the pandemic.

Legislators asked about a variety of issues – from the UI system data breach of 2020, modernizing the software to make it easier to file in the future, fraud and continued federal unemployment benefits.

The Labor Cabinet says there were, and are, improvements to be made.

It says it could have used more than 100 extra people to help process claims.

The cabinet also says last year’s data breach was limited, and it doesn’t believe it came from within the cabinet.

However, legislators pointed out the several cases of fraud they say constituents tell them about every day.

Business owners highlighted the difficulties they say they’re having finding employees. They blame the shortage on the 300-dollar weekly paycheck from the federal government.

“It confuses me and a lot of my friends who are looking for employees on why we’re still paying these federal benefits,” Eddie Craft, president of Nanz & Kraft Florist, said.

One also talked about a problem she’s seeing with former employees who were fired for disciplinary issues. She said they were still allowed to claim unemployment benefits.

“It is impossible for employers in this state to prevail in some of these unemployment cases,” Amy Staed, executive director of Kentucky Association of Private Providers, said.

Business owners said they sent a letter to Governor Beshear asking for the $300 federal extension to end.

Beshear has previously said he won’t stop the federal payments, and Monday announced new incentives to get Kentuckians back to work.

In the future, business owners who spoke Tuesday ask for more unemployment workshops concentrated on small businesses, and their own way to report people who claim to be looking for work but never show up to an interview when requested.

The task force’s next meeting is June 26.

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