FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentuckians facing unemployment are getting faster service.
Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday he is replacing staff to the state’s 12 local Kentucky Career Centers to help Kentuckians make unemployment insurance claims.
The centers have been operating with no dedicated unemployment insurance staff since staff was removed in 2017 by former Gov. Matt Bevin’s Administration.
Beshear said this caused people to only be able to receive unemployment help by calling Frankfort or sending an email, Beshear said call wait times ballooned to more than an hour.
Beshear has retrained staff to work in the 12 local centers so Kentuckians can receive help in person if they desire, but are still able to call or email if they desire.
“In the two weeks since staff has been back in the field we have seen a 50 percent decrease in customer wait times, on our proudest day we were about nine minutes, but we have more work to do on the wait times. We’ve helped over 1,000 clients in person and on the phone,” said Beshear. “While this immediate action has improved access it’s not where it should be and we won’t stop until we get to the point where those who are in these difficult times get very quick and prompt and good service.”
A new live chat feature will be launched through the Department of Education and Workforce Development Cabinet in March.
The live chat option will assist customers with their questions in real time before they make a mistake which could potentially hold up their claim,” said Josh Benton, deputy secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. “We are working to ensure we are doing our part to help support quality education, good paying jobs and Kentuckians in times of need.”
More staff will also be added to the local centers.
“We are committed to evaluating the processes and using all available resources to bring the wait times down even further,” said Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman. “We understand that people who are utilizing UI services are already experiencing set-backs that have put them in a position to need help. Our job is to make sure the process is as efficient as possible so they can access services to assist them through a difficult period. We will continue to develop streamlined services within the UI system.”
Beshear also announced his office is working to recover more than $560,000 in workers compensation special funds that were paid to people who have passed away.
The overpayments were discovered in April 2019 as a result of a Labor Cabinet’s Office of Inspector General investigation into allegations of theft and mismanagement of funds in the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Program, while the report found no employee fraud it did find several areas of mismanagement.
“My administration is working to correct the overall problem,” Gov. Beshear said. “In order to protect the integrity of the special fund, my administration is committed to aggressively recovering all of the overpaid funds.”
Since December 2019 over $85,000 in overpayments have been recovered.