KIYC: Despite state intervention, unemployment claims are still backlogged

The state says it is slowing making progress on the backlog of unemployment claims, but many people are still having issues.

News 12 Staff

Apr 16, 2020, 12:04 AM

Updated 1,550 days ago

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New Jersey's commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development says the state is slowly making progress in fixing the troubled unemployment system. But hundreds of people continue to call Kane In Your Corner daily, saying they are still unable to file their claims either by phone or online.
"It still says there are no representatives available to talk to you at this time," says David Wisneski, one of the people whose weekslong or monthslong struggles to file for benefits were chronicled in a Kane In Your Corner investigation last week.
Most of the eight people who were interviewed in last week's story agreed.
"No progress at all, via phone or three emails sent," reported Mary Ellen Rankl.
"Same exact problems,” echoed Larry Trussell.
At the heart of those problems is the state's outdated computer system, which Kane In Your Corner found was failing to process half of all online claims, instructing filers to call instead. The extra calls were overloading phone lines, resulting in callers being unable to speak to a representative despite trying for days.
Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo says that software upgrades are alleviating some of the backlog.
"About half of our claims go through with no issues," Asaro-Angelo says. "The other half still need some kind of agent intervention. But of that half, we've now automated 60% of those. So, it's a smaller and smaller universe every day."
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Only two of the eight unemployment filers chronicled by Kane In Your Corner say they experienced any improvement. Nick Genito, of Clifton, says he successfully filed for unemployment benefits and received his first payment. Steve Estok, of Camden County, has not received benefits yet, but did get an automated email telling him he was approved and no longer needs to call for information.
Asaro-Angelo says that a 25% improvement rate matches what he's seen overall.
Despite the modest improvements, Kane In Your Corner continues to receive many calls a day from unemployment filers having difficulty submitting claims and will continue to follow up on the story.


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