NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Unemployment claims are mounting as thousands of Texans find themselves jobless.
But many people are finding it difficult to file a claim.
“The situation I’m in is my job won’t pay me but the state is so busy, it won’t help us,” said David Peacock, who started the claims process Monday morning.
Peacock works at GameStop in Dallas. He said he was recently informed he would not receive pay while the shelter-in-place order remains in effect.
Peacock said he tried accessing the Texas Workforce Commission’s website and calling the specified phone number, but to no avail.
“When I tried to do it online, it directed me to a phone number, and then it directed me to go online. Like I said, [I’m] stuck in this limbo over and over and over,” Peacock said.
Peacock is one of thousands of people navigating an inundated system.
The Houston Business Journal reports more than 37,170 claims were filed with the Texas Workforce Commission during the first two weeks of March.
TWC has also extended its call center hours to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We are working with state agency partners to make changes to the website so it’s able to accommodate the number of users trying to access it at this time,” said Francisco Gamez, a spokesman for the Texas Workforce Commission.
More accurate data on March unemployment claims may not be available until late April because the agency regularly releases data the following month, according to Gamez.
To file for unemployment, Texans can call 1-800-939-6631 Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. or visit ui.texasworkforce.org any time.
Individuals can estimate their potential benefits on this website, as the amount may vary.
To search for employment opportunities, applicants can visit WorkInTexas.com.
Qualification for unemployment benefits are based on past wages, type of job separation, and ongoing eligibility requirements.
Gamez said previously, the average turnaround time to receive benefits was 21 days. But he could not estimate the new wait time for applicants in light of COVID-19 concerns.
“Please be patient with us. We have more than 1,000 people working with us on staff trying to follow up, follow through,” Gamez said.
When asked what Gamez will say to those who are not getting paid and who are desperate to file their unemployment claims?
Gamez replied, “I want to say we are committed to helping them. If they qualify for unemployment, they will get benefits. We’ll take care of them.”
In Dallas, Peacock has yet to speak with an actual human on the phone. He said his only option is to keep trying.
“It’s frustrating and scary to think that this is happening,” Peacock said. “They should have been prepared for this. This is a worst-case scenario; they should have been prepared.”
The number of people filing for unemployment is the highest it’s been in two years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which estimates more than 281,000 people filed for jobless claims in the first two weeks of March.