Struggles continue when filing for unemployment
Since March 15, Wisconsin has paid more than $250 million to people who have filed for unemployment.
However, Brock Hammons is not one of them.
"I am grasping for straws,” former restaurant manager Brock Hammons said. “Seven weeks without pay, that is hard."
Hammons said he was laid off on March 18, and applied for unemployment two days later.
"I haven't received anything,” Hammons said. “It's all just been waiting. I've sent e-mails, obviously, you've heard about everybody trying to call and it's just a nightmare."
Hammons said he has filed for his weekly unemployment check every week, but hasn't received the money yet, and is unsure if his application has been processed.
After attempting to call multiple divisions within the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), someone answered the phone.
"So I actually got through to somebody in Fraud," Hammons said. "She was able to bring it up and she said 'Well, unfortunately, there's nobody assigned to your case yet,' and this was week 6, no one was even looking at my case yet."
NBC15 News contacted the Wisconsin DWD to find some answers.
"We went from a time of the lowest unemployment in a very long time, therefore, low staffing, to a all of a sudden, we have avalanche of claims and issues that we need to look at," Program and Policy Analyst Emily Savard said.
Savard said that problem snowballed into a backlog of tens of thousands of people who need help.
“Everybody will be paid,” Savard said. “And everyone will receive back pay for those weeks that they have claimed."
Savard said it takes time to go through each claim, and process it in accordance with state and federal laws.
“We do have 106 state employees helping who have been reassigned from other areas,” Savard said. “We have active recruitments right now happening where we'll be getting on about 200 hundred new staff to process claims and help with adjudication, and we are working on signing a contract with a vendor for an additional call center that should have over 600 staff members that will help with calls and to process paperwork."
Savard also encourages applicants to be patient.
"I'm still waiting, and I haven't got a phone call yet," Hammons said.
The Wisconsin DWD has processed more than 450,000 applications since March 1. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Wisconsin’s unemployment rate for March was 3.4%. Unemployment numbers for April are pending.