The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development recently began processing the backlog in the number of unemployment compensation.
According to DWD spokesperson John Dipko, the department is taking many steps to assure these claims are processed as quickly as possible.
According to statistics listed on the DWD’s website, there were 502,091 initial claims for unemployment insurance in 2012 and 3,971,328 regular weekly claims filed. This is less than the 573,590 initial claims and 4,450,377 weekly claims filed in 2011, according to the website.
These steps include additional staff to process the claims, Dipko said.
Dipko also said the department will most likely make significant process on the claims for unemployment benefits over the next 10 weeks.
“We have reduced the number of pending cases through additional staffing, extended work hours and other measures and, as we stated publicly in late October, we expect to see significant progress over 10 weeks,” Dipko said.
Dipko also addressed the concerns of some people who will lose unemployment insurance for a few weeks due to the backlog.
He emphasized the Department understands the importance of unemployment benefits to those who receive them, and these benefits will not be lost due to a backlog.
“While a delay in processing will not result in a loss of weekly benefits for affected claimants, we understand the benefits are critical and will continue working to get complete and accurate payments issued as quickly as possible,” Dipko said.
David Canon, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin, said a backlog of unemployment compensation is a naturally occurring process that happens frequently in an economy, and especially in times of recession.
According to Canon, the system at the DWD just has to deal with too many claims and not enough employees.
“The system is overwhelmed with the people filing claims and only a certain amount of employees dealing with these claims, so there’s going to be a backlog on filing backlogs claims,” Canon said. “It’s just simple math.”
Canon also addressed the concerns of people who receive unemployment benefits. While the backlog is being reduced, waiting for unemployment benefits can still have its consequences.
“The longer they have to wait to get there unemployment compensation the longer ‘til they can pay their bills, et cetera,” Canon said.
Canon said the fact the department has stated it is making progress in processing the backlog of unemployment claims reflects a positive turn the state economy in Wisconsin has taken.
This reflects good news on the unemployment front, because it means there are less claims being filed, Canon said, referring to the Wisconsin unemployment rate dropping to 6.2 percent in the most recent report, which is down from 7 percent in December 2011.