Wisconsin’s Unemployment Insurance Program (UI) continues to be front and center as COVID-19 impacts layoffs in Wisconsin. Initial reports of call center failures were confirmed last week by an audit done by the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB). The audit briefing sheet shared that the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), the cabinet agency that administers UI, received 41.1 million phone calls in a three-and-a-half month span, and only around half a percent were answered. Specifically, as laid out in this article, more than 93 percent, or 38.3 million calls, were blocked or met with busy signals, while another 6.2 percent of callers hung up before receiving an answer.
Initial steps taken to improve the poor response time taking claimants calls include the reassignment of more than 130 DWD employees to the UI division and increasing the number of employees working on UI cases from 600 to 1500.