SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – Thousands of Texans are out of work, struggling to pay bills, and among other things having trouble filing unemployment benefits.
The Texas Workforce Commission and Workforce Solutions of East Texas are doing their best to connect with each person, but with hundreds of calls every day, it has proven difficult to keep up with the demand.
Susan Livitz was approved for benefits several weeks ago but has yet to receive money from the state.
She has called Texas Workforce Solutions, but among others continues to get a busy signal. The commission’s website has also crashed as a result of people trying to access assistance.
To help with the high number of calls, the company has hired additional staff to process claims, but people are still waiting and they’re getting more impatient as COVID-19 keeps them from returning to work.
“I’ve called five business days with calls over 100 times a day and I can’t get through to anyone,” said Livitz.
In a press conference, Gov. Abbott addressed the need for Texans and unemployment benefits, saying it’s a record high.
“The workforce commission recorded it’s largest spike in calls ever to its benefits claim line on March 26th with about 1.7 million calls received in one day, the line average is about 120,000 calls in one day,” he said.
At Workforce Solutions of East Texas, they cover 14 counties and are getting over 500 calls a day.
“We also have a call center they call and basically that doesn’t measure all of the calls because many of them are calling the call center filing for benefits,” said Stephen Lynch, with Workforce Solutions East Texas.
Gov. Abbott is encouraging those who have been denied benefits to re-apply because many who were turned down in the past could now qualify due to recent expansions in the program.
Workforce Solutions of East Texas has launched a new webinar series that is free to help job seekers in the area. They are scheduled throughout the month of April at 11 a.m.