The leadership and staff of the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) have great sympathy for people and businesses who have been affected by the national economic downturn. We take very seriously our responsibility to the people who file unemployment insurance claims and the employers who fund them.
Inaccurate and misleading information about unemployment insurance has been broadcast or published in recent weeks. We want to set the record straight.
Here are the facts on the performance of the unemployment insurance system:
• 207,000 unemployment claims have been filed this year, resulting in payments of more that $704 million in state and federally funded unemployment insurance benefits.
• 97% of the claims that are filed with complete and accurate information and that are not contested by employers are paid within seven days.
• In October, 91% of claims filed received notification of their eligibility, and if eligible, were paid within 28 days.
• The remaining claims have issues that require further research, investigation and adjudication, processes that take additional time.
• The unemployment insurance system was operating at maximum capacity in 2008. The system was taking up to 2,500 claims per week and 99% of all callers got a busy signal. Since then, the number of claims has peaked at more than 6,000 per week but customer service, while not perfect, has markedly improved.
Despite the many thousands of people who have received unemployment insurance benefits, some claims have taken too long to resolve. To address the prolonged increase in demand on the unemployment system, LWC has this year:
• Increased the number of customer service representatives in the call center, including doubling the number of people who answer phones on high volume days.
• Improved processes to more efficiently resolve claims with issues.
• Implemented best practices from other states.
• Upgraded technology and increased automation of the claims process.
• Hired additional staff, including experienced retirees, to process claims.
• Paid staff overtime on holidays and weekends to process claims.
• Enhanced the online claims application to provide better service.
On November 9, New Orleans TV station WDSU erroneously reported it knew of thousands of people who had been waiting six or seven months since filing their claim without having heard from the LWC. The agency immediately requested that information in order to investigate the allegation and resolve any outstanding issues related to those claims.
A preliminary review of the list received from WDSU shows approximately 35 claims, not thousands, within at least a six-month timeframe. All of those claims had issues and all of them in which accurate information was provided to the LWC had previously received a determination. In most cases the claims had been denied. Some have been through more than one level of appeals.
The other cases, which are more recent, include:
• Claims by people who already were drawing unemployment insurance benefits.
• Claims with issues that were already being adjudicated.
• Claims involving people who had been fired or whose past employer had protested their claims.
• Claims already determined as being ineligible.
We at the LWC are concerned about every unemployment insurance claim we receive and want to be sure that each one is handled accurately, timely and fairly. We are acting aggressively to improve the system and increase its capacity to serve the people of Louisiana.
Note: This revision date does not reflect the revision date of the press release shown. Press Release postings are updated as needed and should be considered accurate as shown.