Unemployment claims up 600 percent; Depart. of Employment deals with system overload

Updated: Mar. 30, 2020 at 7:33 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The number of Mississippians looking for unemployment benefits have skyrocketed in recent weeks.

The virus has shut down businesses, leaving people without work around the state.

Jackie Turner, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, said they’ve seen a 600 percent increase of people filing for unemployment.

That’s created some problems at their offices which are now being addressed.

MDES claims
MDES claims

At the Mississippi Department of Employment Security phone systems were overloaded and their website crashed from the flood of people trying to file for unemployment.

Lieutenant Delbert Hosemann said, “They’re working hard on it we’ve just been flooded. $235 per week that’s going to be very helpful to people.”

Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann says they’ve now hired 120 people to aid with the influx of applicants.

Cathy Hodge says she spent 13 hours on the phone and was disconnected 6 times. She has income from another state and has to file by phone. Her husband fighting cancer is on disability. Her future uncertain.

Cathy Hodge said, “I am very concerned the bills aren’t going to wait on this. We still got the mortgage, still got the car note, still got all the utility bills. Everything I’m still trying to get through still trying to get someone to speak to me without getting disconnected.”

M.D.E.S. has now updated their website which they say will handle the overload of people looking for unemployment benefits during the coronavirus crisis.

Employment security officials say they’ve added the ability to email or call WIN job centers for people looking for work.

They’re also setting up a mass claim filing for employers who had to lay off workers due to the virus. They say that should speed up the application process for many people.

Anyone needing to file for unemployment in Mississippi is advised to visit their new website.

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