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Rebound Idaho: Significant progress made recently on unemployment benefits claims

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Posted at 7:59 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 22:10:04-04

IDAHO — Finally, many more unemployed Idahoans are getting some relief.

As we previously reported, Governor Brad Little signed a proclamation last week suspending certain regulations surrounding unemployment benefits. As we’ve now learned from labor reps, that resulted in the Idaho Department of Labor paying out a record amount of $86 million in claims last week, and more than 16,000 claimants.

Some unemployed Idahoans we spoke to, however, say they wish this had happened sooner. The governor said the demand level was unanticipated.

“I mean hindsight is 2020 obviously, but looking back, should you have ramped up knowing that you were going to close down, essentially, the economy?" asked KIVI reporter Roland Beres.

"Well, yes, in hindsight," said Governor Little. "But we had a lot of businesses close down that weren’t impacted. Ya know, the healthcare industry — we made no recommendations. They closed down on their own, wanted to make sure they had enough capacity. So there were a lot of industries that closed down -- and I don’t know that anybody anticipated -- that closed down, that weren’t impacted by the stay-home order. And that’s why those numbers shot up over a hundred thousand.”

In the last few months, many Idahoans have told us that getting ahold of the department has been stressful and at-times impossible. But as of Thursday, an additional 50 call-center agents started working with the department, according to labor reps, with the goal of making wait-times shorter for callers. This brings the total number of call center agents to 100. We will continue tracking the progress of this issue for you.