MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development officials said on Thursday they’ve assigned the last few thousand undecided unemployment claims to adjudicators.
The agency said that all remaining claims with eligibility problems over 21 days old have now been assigned to adjudicators, who will work to resolve any remaining questions. The department didn’t say how many claims adjudicators will have to deal with but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported they number about 5,000.
The DWD has been struggling to resolve a massive backlog of claims since the coronavirus pandemic began and businesses closed or laid off employees. Since the pandemic began the department has processed nearly 8.8 million weekly claims — more than four years’ worth of claims in just nine months. As of September, nearly 100,000 Wisconsin residents had pending claims.
Republicans have heaped criticism on Gov. Tony Evers for months for failing to resolve the problem.
The governor requested DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman’s resignation in September and gave the agency over to Deputy Secretary Amy Pechacek. Evers announced Thursday that he has formally appointed Pechacek as department secretary. She said in a statement that the department should be able to resume timely claim approvals next month.
DWD officials didn’t immediately respond to messages Thursday morning.