BATON ROUGE, La. (Sept. 11, 2008) - The Louisiana Workforce Commission today highlighted the progress officials have made in overcoming the problems associated with Hurricane Gustav and helping Louisiana’s workers receive the help they need. Executive Director Tim Barfield said that the commission is making significant progress in responding to the challenge of the unprecedented number of calls that resulted after Hurricane Gustav. The commission has increased the number of people taking calls from the unemployed by about 10-fold. The LWC has also activated five mobile units in south Louisiana in particularly hard-hit areas.
“We’ve made substantial progress in handling the enormous influx of calls we received immediately after Gustav hit,” said Tim Barfield, LWC Executive Director. “We quickly assessed the problem and our team has been working tirelessly to correct it and get Louisiana workers the help they need in these difficult times.”
The LWC this week opened two additional phone lines to receive new unemployment claims. Operators are staffing 1-866-259-6345 and 1-800-957-1605 to expedite new claims.
Barfield also discussed the $22.2 million grant awarded to the LWC by the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant, which will fund approximately 4,000 temporary jobs for cleanup and restoration, is awarded based on a state's ability to meet specific guidelines. Of the total award, $7.4 million has been immediately released to the LWC. Additional funding up to the amount approved will be made available as the state demonstrates a continued need for disaster assistance.
“We’re proud not only to bring this type of funding and opportunity to our state, but to provide needed jobs and clean-up to the residents ready to have their lives return to normalcy,” added Barfield.
Barfield explained that the lack of power at its headquarters through late Sunday severely impacted its ability to respond to both new claims because of the storm and existing claims from workers already in the pipeline.
LWC officials quickly dispatched mobile units to take new unemployment insurance claims and provide job search and placement services.
“The LWC has taken extraordinary steps to work around this disruption, including greatly increasing our call center capacity and extending our hours,” added Barfield. “We know from our shortcomings that we can only get better, and we are committed to doing so quickly.”
The best way to file claims continues to be on the LWC Web site at www.laworks.net.
For those wishing to continue previous claimed weekly benefits, LWC officials recommend they call any of the Easy Call numbers or submit their requests via the Web at www.laworks.net.
People who submitted continuing claims for the weeks ending Aug. 30 and Sept. 6 do not need to call the LWC to check on the status of those claims. They will be processed automatically.
People who have issues with their claims should call the commission’s usual toll-free line, 1-866-783-5567, to have them resolved.
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