Department of Employment Security Workers Seeing Unprecedented Workload

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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – The rapid spread of the coronavirus is forcing many businesses to close, sparking a wave of layoffs.

As of last week, more than 30,000  Mississippians have filed for unemployment benefits, and that number continues to increase.

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“It’s unreal how much it’s increased in just the last three weeks,” Jackie Turner, executive director for the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

Turner said anyone who’s lost their job is eligible to file for employment.

Thanks to a piece of legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump, those who’ve lost their jobs due to this pandemic are able to receive additional benefits to help them stay afloat.

“Under the Cares Act signed by the president, individuals may be eligible for an additional $600 a week in addition to their regular unemployment benefits,” said Timothy Rush, reemployment assistance director for MDES.

For anyone looking to file a claim, MDES encouraged calling the numbers listed on their website to get started.

I’m recent weeks, people have voiced their frustrations about long wait times and not being able to get ahold of anyone when they call.

Turner said that’s due to an unprecedented workload.

“Remember, the economy was good, so it was a normal workload,” Turner explained. “All of a sudden, there are thousands and thousands of people trying to reach us at one time. We have increased our capacity over two times, we are implementing a new call center next week. We have allowed people to go online and complete a form, and every day we are searching for other things to implement on how to serve the individuals in Mississippi.”

MDES said it’s doing its best to answer everyone who’s filing a claim.

The department is even working seven days a week now.

“It’s frustrating for you all in Mississippi and it’s frustrating for us that we can’t serve you  timely,” Turner expressed. “We ask for patience even though patience is thin, we will get to everyone as quickly as possible, and know that we are implementing new ways every day to do such things.”

“If an individual has not had the chance to talk to someone or file their claim, eventually we will service them and any benefits they are due, that they haven’t been paid for and qualified for, we will pay them those benefits,” said Rush.

When filing a claim, you have to set up a username using an email address and password.

If you happen to forget those, you can retrieve that information by calling into the agency, or contacting someone at your local Win Job Center.

For more information on applying for unemployment benefits, MDES’s website.

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