Workforce commission now seeing almost 30,000 unemployment claims a day

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Workforce Commission Executive Director Ed Serna stressed patience during a Facebook Live town hall Wednesday afternoon.

He addressed the influx of unemployment insurance claims, website traffic and what the agency is doing to handle the call volume amid COVID-19, which KXAN continues to field questions about.

Serna said TWC, on Tuesday, transferred 200 unemployment insurance tax auditors to work in the call center. The agency has four call centers, which normally take about 13,000 calls a day.

On March 22 alone, those call centers received around 100,000 calls.

“I assure you, that we will help everyone that needs help,” Serna said. “I know it is hard to hear this, but I ask that you have just a little bit of patience with us.”

TWC also plans to hire 100 additional employees to work in the call centers. That includes expanding hours, including Saturday work.

The agency is also working with AT&T to increase the call center capacity.

“We’re taking all the steps we can, we’re pulling out all the stops, nothing is off the table,” he said.

Serna said improvements will take “days” — rather than weeks or months — and he encouraged callers to try calling at different times during the day.

Overall, unemployment insurance claims statewide remain in the tens of thousands daily, as we reported last week, and continue to spike.

“So far, in the past week, we’ve had in excess of 150,000 claims,” Serna said. “We are now close to 30,000 claims a day for unemployment insurance benefits.”

The executive director also noted that the agency has eliminated the work search requirement because of COVID-19, as well as the one week waiting period to receive unemployment benefits.

As for self-employed/independent contractors, Serna said that under the current law, they are not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, but noted that legislation in Congress may change that shortly.

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