Arkansas sees complications with unemployment claims

Arkansas sees complications with unemployment claims

PARAGOULD, Ark. (KAIT) - The nation has seen record numbers when it comes to Americans filing for unemployment benefits, mostly from layoffs due to COVID-19.

Those numbers are also high in the state of Arkansas.

In a press conference Wednesday, officials touched on how they are combating the problem.

“We have added more capacity to the website so that should be moving faster today. We are excited about that and hopefully, we are going to be able to keep up with this demand," Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said.

But, long lines and no one on the other end of the phone line is also the problem.

A Paragould woman, who asked to have her last name not mentioned, was a substitute until last month.

“When the coronavirus hit and they started shutting down schools. I lost my job," Amanda said.

She has been unemployed ever since prompting her to file for unemployment benefits.

“I definitely tried to do it online and of course [the] system [was] always booting me out, not doing it. So, I finally decided to come up here and do the paperwork,” Amanda said.

She physically went to the Arkansas Workforce Center, hoping to finally get the process started and make ends meet like normal and she’s not alone.

“We went from processing 1,000 claims a week to literally falling over a cliff and having to do 30,000 the next week and by all indications, we will be at the same level this week," Preston said.

Preston said it’s been difficult for the department to stay above the water.

“To keep up with that volume is certainly putting a strain on our system and our people,” Preston added.

People like Amanda are seeing the direct effects of that.

She didn’t hear anything from the office and she decided to call to see what was going on with her claim, only to find out some shocking news.

“They gave me the information and then I get the letter in the mail, telling me that I didn’t get the benefits that I was hoping for," Amanda said.

But, at that press conference, Preston addressed concerns over pandemic unemployment compensation, but saying to everyone when it comes to this process to “Please be patient.”

But, patience is hard for those who don’t know what is coming next.

“We still need income to provide for our family. My husband is doing what he can. All the pressure is being put on him now. I’m just hoping all this can end soon so that I can go back to work," Amanda said.

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