COLUMBUS, Ga (WRBL) – The number of initial unemployment claims has reached another all-time high, with this month’s total surpassing the number of claims reached in the past four years combined.
The strain of high claims is impacting the Georgia Department of Labor as they’re struggling to process claims quickly.
“We have an agency where employees have been working almost every day for the past three or four weeks,” Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “If you had a thousand more lines in the call center, it still wouldn’t be enough to handle the volume right now.”
Several Columbus residents say they haven’t received a single unemployment check. With the office located in the 700 block of Veterans parkway closed due to the pandemic, many have had to contact them online and over the phone – which has turned into a hassle.
If you’ve called the Unemployment office in Columbus, Georgia.. you’ve probably received this automated message: “Our staff are currently assisting other customers. your call is important to us. Please leave your name, telephone number, and a brief message and a representative will return your call as soon as possible..”
Demond Halls says that as soon as possible feels like forever.
“I’ve left dozens of voicemails,” Hall says. He has yet to see any of his unemployment checks and he’s been calling since March 20 when I put it in online.”
Georgia reached an all-time high 11.9 percent unemployment rate in April.. An increase of 7.3 percent in March.
Hall is a part of that 11.9 percent of unemployed people in Georgia. But he says, his state government is not working for him..
“I just want them to know, they need to step up and do their jobs..”
Across the nation, more than 2.4 million people applied for unemployment benefits during the week of May 16, according to the Labor Department.
That brings the total number of unemployment claims filed in mid-March to more than 38 million.
On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified before the Senate Banking Committee on the CARES Act.
“We are sympathetic to hardworking Americans and businesses enduring tremendous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect economic conditions to improve in the third and fourth quarter and into next year,” Mnuchin said in his testimony.
Hall says he can’t wait until then, he needs his money now.
“At this time.. I have to go to work because I have a child to take care of and feed.”