Philadelphians demand better handling of unemployment claims

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A group representing Philadelphians who’ve lost work is calling on the state to provide more timely information about unemployment claims. 

The Philadelphia Unemployment Project is calling on Governor Tom Wolf to hire more staff for unemployment compensation service centers. 

WHYY By Ximena Conde. April 22, 2020. Read full article HERE

“We have found it impossible to get through for information on our claims on telephones, chat or email. Many of us have not received the PIN numbers that we need to apply for benefits,” wrote a group of 83 people who identified as recently laid-off in a letter to Governor Wolf. “The unemployment service must ANSWER THEIR PHONES.”

Since the coronavirus shutdown began in the third week of March, more than 1.5 million Pennsylvania residents have applied for unemployment benefits. Some are receiving that cash, plus an additional $600 dollars in federal stimulus a week, but many others complain that they have heard nothing back from the agency in charge of processing applications.

“People tell us they’ve called 400 times in a day, and [were] never answered,” said director of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project John Dodd. “We think the minimum that should be done is the state should put a whole lot more phone lines in.”

On a call on Monday, Secretary of Labor and Industry Jerry Oleksiak said that 70 retired staff had been brought back, and the department had hired another 100 people to bring on by mid-May. “We are doing what we can to improve our response time,” he said.

The Governor’s office has not yet responded to a request for comment on the letter or delays.

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