Working Michiganders displaced by the coronavirus pandemic are confronting a new frustration: A failing unemployment computer system.
“My encouragement for folks is, keep attempting to get that application in,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) told reporters on Thursday.
“But, know that we understand the incredible strain on the system, the incredible number of people that have been impacted, and we are going to work to make sure people get the unemployment that they need to get through this crisis.”
One resident, Kathy Mooradian, told the Detroit Free Press she has been trying to file a claim “for days,” that she ran out of patience, and that “our governor doesn’t give a hoot about any of us.”
“We understand the frustrations and we appreciate the patience people have shown,” Jason Moon, a spokesman for the state Labor Department said, according to the paper. “We are experiencing an unprecedented historical demand on the system.”
Mooradian, meanwhile, was more direct, demanding Whitmer “fix the damn 800-number,” a play on the governor’s promise as a candidate to “fix the damn roads.”
The Michigander said the unemployment system “cannot complete my call, is too busy sometimes it answers and I get to press 1, then it just hangs up.”
She added, “This has happened over 100 times.”
On Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (DLEO) posted an alert on Twitter acknowledging the failure of the Unemployment Insurance Agency.
At this time, the MiWAM online unemployment system is not available. Technical teams are working resolve the issue as quickly as possible. pic.twitter.com/ntfgddpDhx
— Michigan Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (@MichiganLEO) March 31, 2020
“At this time, the MiWAM online unemployment system is not available,” DLEO wrote Tuesday morning. “Technical teams are working resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”
There have been numerous reports over the past two weeks that the system has been very slow and almost impossible to access, the result of a huge jump in laid-off workers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Michigan had 129,298 new unemployment claims filed for the week ending March 21, up from 5,338 filed the week prior.
The state Unemployment Insurance Agency created a schedule for residents to file claims by the last name’s first letter, but that didn’t seem to alleviate the problem.
“Everybody’s telling you there’s money out there, and you’re already heightened with frustration and worry,” South Lyon resident Paul Bedich told the Free Press.
“They tell you there’s a path, you go down the path and you find the path is a loop.”