With 800K Texans calling unemployment lines, TWC vows changes are coming after system overwhelmed
HOUSTON – As part of the stimulus deal, unemployed and furloughed workers in Texas could get $600 a week, for up to four months as more people lose their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic that has strangled the U.S. and world economies. This money would be in addition to the money they’d receive from the state of Texas.
However, as more people lose their jobs and try to file for unemployment, many are having a difficult time of getting help during the crisis.
Problems while filing for unemployment
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, on a typical day, the Texas Workforce Commission took about 13,000 phone calls a day. That number is up to 100,000 calls a day, TWC reports.
Melissa Jackson, a restaurant server from Huntsville, is among those having no luck.
“I called over 450 times yesterday. All the different numbers trying to get a spot in line. It says all circuits are busy. It will say multiple messages about the overwhelming call volume," Jackson said.
The Executive Director of The Texas Workforce Commission says the state has never seen anything like it. More than 800,00 Texans have been calling the state’s unemployment office in recent weeks as the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate.
“We’re continuing to improve it and by doing so it should be more accessible to you as we progress. When I say improve, I’m talking about improvements in days, not in weeks,” said Ed Serna, TWC’s Executive Director during a virtual town hall on Facebook Wednesday.
What’s being done to fix the problems?
“We are taking nothing off the table and doing everything with can to make sure we get your calls,” Serna said. TWC is hiring 100 additional staff members to work in the department’s four call centers around the state and is transferring 200 employees from other divisions within TWC to help field phone calls. The department also plans to increase the size of its servers so more people can get help online.
TWC is also looking to increase its capacity to handle more phone calls.
“We will provide all benefits that we have available,” Serna said.
Watch the full town hall below:
TWC COVID 19
Many people across the Lone Star State have questions about how unemployment insurance works, how it is paid, how to sign up for benefits, and how to use the resources of TWC to find new employment. Get your answers, now. #COVID19 #StayHomeTexas #unemploymentPosted by Texas Workforce Commission on Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Correction:This story has been corrected to show that approximately 800,000 people are calling the unemployment office not filing for unemployment.
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