Graham Kilmer

Unemployment Claims Continue At Unprecedented Rate

DWD triples workforce for unemployment insurance system in response.

By - Jul 9th, 2020 02:38 pm
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On March 19th, the downtown Milwaukee Punch Bowl Social laid off 91 employees. Photo by Jennifer Rick.

On March 19th, the downtown Milwaukee Punch Bowl Social laid off 91 employees. Photo by Jennifer Rick.

The number of new unemployment claims coming in continues to hold relatively steady in both Wisconsin and across the U.S.

Last week the U.S. saw 1.3 million new unemployment claims bringing the total number of new claims since the beginning of March to 50.4 million.

While the number of new regular unemployment claims has slowly gone down each week, the number of claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) continues to rise. This week, there were more than 1 million claims across the U.S. for PUA.

In Wisconsin, there were 27,428 new unemployment claims over the past seven days. The total number of new unemployment claims the state has seen since the start of the pandemic now exceeds 750,000.

In terms of population, that is like every single person, man, woman and child, in both Dane and Brown counties filing for unemployment. Or, like two-thirds of Milwaukee County residents filing for unemployment.

The state’s unemployment insurance system has been widely criticized for its performance during the pandemic. But Democrats have lampooned Republicans in the state for enacting a number of restrictions on the system during former Gov. Scott Walker’s tenure, and for the lame-duck laws that prevent Gov. Tony Evers from relaxing the restrictions.

This week, Republican state representatives proposed lending citizens money in the short term, a move that wouldn’t require legislation or convening the Legislature.

As of July 4th, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) said it has resolved 87 percent of the claims it has received since the start of the pandemic, approving 75 percent and denying 11 percent.

DWD also recently announced that it has tripled the number of people working on unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic from 500 to 1,700. The department has done this through intergovernmental transfers, new hires and contracting with private sector firms.

The latest estimate for the national unemployment rate is approximately 11 percent. Though because of an error in the latest jobs report, it’s likely 12 percent. And unfortunately, communities of color are experiencing rates of unemployment above the national average.

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Categories: Business, Economics, Health

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