After thousands descended on Frankfort last week in hopes of getting face-to-face help with their unemployment claim, state officials are finalizing a plan to resume in-person services within a week.
Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday that the state was still developing its plan but that he hopes a few in-person sites will open for business by either later this week or early next week.
The current plan is to set up two or three sites across the state by the beginning of next week with an eventual goal of a total of four to five sites. He did not provide details about where in the state these sites would be located.
There aren’t more locations currently planned, he said, due to limited staffing and a need to keep staff in Frankfort to work on claims of those who can’t travel for help.
“I wish tomorrow we could have every claim resolved,” Beshear said. “But we still have the same system, we’re still working to overcome the budget slash, we’re still working to overcome the lack of employees as we train and as we add. Unfortunately that takes time and it’s time many of you all don’t have.”
As he cited last week, Beshear pointed to the outdated technology of a decades-old unemployment system, unprecedented demand and past administration budget cuts that hollowed out Kentucky’s unemployment system as reasons why there are still tens of thousands of Kentuckians with unprocessed unemployment claims.
He said about 90 percent of March, April and May claims have been processed, but with claims approaching the 1 million mark, that still leaves tens of thousands of claims unresolved.
Beshear also announced Monday the state is finalizing a contract with an outside vendor to help the state train additional claim adjudicators, improve communication and quicken claim processing.
“I’m not willing to wait any longer for us to be able to do it internally,” he said. “I’ll pay whatever it takes to get this thing fixed.”
Building on the change he announced a few weeks ago of moving the state’s unemployment office into the Labor Cabinet, Beshear said Monday that Labor Cabinet Secretary Larry Roberts will personally lead The Office of Unemployment Insurance, a move he’s expecting to help speed up claim processing.
Reporter Matthew Glowicki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 502-582-4989 or on Twitter @mattglo. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/mattg.