New data shows how long Oregonians are waiting on the phone for unemployment benefits

Currently, about 100,000 Oregonians filed for unemployment at the end of last week on April 4.

Posted: Apr 15, 2020 11:37 PM
Updated: Apr 16, 2020 10:55 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Oregon Department of Employment has announced new data involving unemployment claims as well as wait times.

Currently, about 100,000 Oregonians filed for unemployment at the end of last week on April 4. At the peak of the great recession, the number of people filing for unemployment was about 20,000 in one week.

This is putting a strain on unemployment call centers. On March 18, there were about 3,500 calls and 75% were answered. The average waiting time on that day was 43 minutes. As of Tuesday, unemployment centers received 2,400 calls but about 37% of those calls were answered.

The ratio of initial claims filed and claims processed also grew. At the end of one week in March, 4,900 claims were filed and 4,200 were processed. The week ending on April 4, only half of the claims filed were processed.

This backlog in unemployment claims and the long wait times to file a claim is leaving many Oregonians, like Florence resident Trisha Wymore, frustrated and disappointed.

"We've lived in Oregon our entire lives," Wymore said. "We've paid so much in taxes and unemployment and we've served this state and this country. We're volunteer firefighters, you know we've done our part and we're being let down."

As of Monday, the Department of Employment now has 450 staff available to help process claims. That is up from 106 on March 8.

To view the full charts on the Department of Employments website, click here.

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