State’s upgrades to unemployment compensation services underway

From staff reports

The state Department of Labor & Industry’s announced its next phase of the unemployment compensation customer service improvement initiative began Monday, with about 230 new customer service representatives answering incoming calls.

According to a department news release, existing staff has been shifted to exclusively work on resolving outstanding claim issues.

The additional staff, the release said, will allow for individuals receiving unemployment benefits to more easily reach a customer service representative by phone, while also increasing the speed at which staff members can resolve claim issues.

According to the release, the initiative is part of a larger effort to improve the customer experience and prepare people receiving unemployment payments for the transition from a 40-year-old mainframe system to an easier-to-use modern computer system in June.

“We hope that individuals calling us see a difference in their hold time, with the time decreasing over the next few weeks as we ramp up staffing,” Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier said.

“Behind the scenes, we’ll be seeing faster claims processing times as our highly trained claims specialists can now dedicate their full attention to resolving outstanding issues. This is all part of our efforts to serve individuals receiving unemployment benefits with the best possible customer service.”

According to the release, an additional 200 customer service representatives are completing onboarding and training and will begin answering calls on May 17.

In addition, the release said, the department will continue adding customer service representatives until all calls to the Unemployment Compensation Service Center are answered or until 1,000 total customer service representatives are staffing phones.

Virtual workshops

A separate department news release announced virtual workshops are available this week to help individuals, employers and third-party administrators prepare for next month’s transition from the outdated legacy system to a new modern computer system.

The workshops will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday and 6 p.m. Thursday for those who speak English, and 7:30 p.m. Thursday for those who speak Spanish.

This week’s workshops are part of a series of 24 workshops, and other tools and resources the department is providing to users, including the legislative, advocate, and employer communities, to guide them through the transition to the new system, the release said.

A full list of scheduled workshops and links to connect to them are available at