STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Oregon Employment chief announces plan to address backlogged unemployment claims

Oregon Employment Department director Kay Erickson said that the agency would work to process '100 percent' of the backlogged claims.

Posted: May 26, 2020 10:47 AM

SALEM, Ore. — The head of Oregon's Employment Department unveiled a plan on Tuesday to process the roughly 38,000 backlogged unemployment claims that have piled up since the state's coronavirus countermeasures caused a massive lay-off boom beginning in March.

Despite strides made in additional staffing and claims processing over the past two months, many Oregonians have continued to report a lack of movement on their unemployment claims and difficulty contacting OED for help.

"While the Oregon Employment Department has paid a record number of Oregonians within two to three weeks, for too many Oregonians, their claims are in a backlog," OED director Kay Erickson said in a statement. "We know how frustrating it has been for those who are trying to reach us about the status of their claims and have been unable to get through."

Over the past two weeks, leading lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties have indicted the agency for the backlog, urging action.

Erickson's statement on Tuesday heralded 'Project Focus 100,' an effort to process 100 percent of the backlogged claims through a four-point strategy.

"The goal is straightforward: to process 100 percent of the 38,000 claim backlog as quickly as possible and get Oregonians the relief they need," Erickson said.

The four steps listed by Erickson are as follows:

  1. Continue surge hiring. The department has made good progress getting the staff we need to process claims quickly, increasing by six times the number of people processing claims than were in place before COVID-19 closures began. We continue hiring and training new employees to ensure every Oregonian gets the benefits they’re owed in a timely fashion.
  2. Further focus our experienced professionals on the oldest and most complex claims. For two weeks, from May 29 to June 12, we will increase our outbound calls to resolve claims for those that have been waiting the longest. To do this, our most experienced employees will take time away from answering the phones. We will also temporarily reassign job center employees to take incoming calls to help resolve questions, in all languages, relating to: Address/Phone number changes, looking up customer ID (CID) numbers, re-setting PIN numbers, issues with claiming a week of benefits online (including taking weekly certifications), filing a new claim or processing an internet initial claim (except those with military, federal, or out-of-state wages), re-starting a claim, checking the status of a claim (if unable to use the online claim system).
  3. Increase proactive contact and communication. We’re piloting new ways of contacting Oregonians to let them know where their claims are in the system and to solve problems. We now have pre-recorded phone messages and emails will confirm that we’ve received your PUA claim. We’re also working to add a customer service chat bot to our website.
  4. Use technology to close gaps and improve service. We have identified strategies that move claims out of processing traps that can hang them up. That has already moved thousands of claims through processing. We will continue using these strategies to speed up processing and get Oregonians whose claims have been stuck the benefits they’re owed.

"We continue to add new metrics to our online dashboard so that Oregonians can watch our progress," Erickson said. "We’ll continue to be transparent about where we are and our progress toward our goals. Navigating this crisis is a collective effort, and Oregonians know how to work together to overcome hard challenges. We’ll get through this together."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 175121

Reported Deaths: 2460
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34937568
Washington23491229
Marion20195299
Clackamas15386204
Lane11591144
Jackson9923127
Umatilla796883
Deschutes712972
Linn416063
Yamhill410175
Klamath349059
Polk344252
Malheur342858
Josephine306362
Douglas304765
Benton273218
Jefferson207032
Coos197531
Columbia154526
Union141624
Lincoln130220
Wasco129128
Hood River112529
Morrow107915
Clatsop8958
Crook88019
Baker85814
Curry5959
Tillamook5813
Lake4137
Grant4124
Harney3066
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam561
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3718210

Reported Deaths: 61038
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122899723653
Riverside2972154525
San Bernardino2947794555
San Diego2749603674
Orange2689624896
Santa Clara1170812013
Kern1078591322
Sacramento1011721646
Fresno1005621646
Alameda853671477
Ventura802301000
San Joaquin714311334
Contra Costa67019782
Stanislaus603831028
Tulare49383829
Monterey43267357
San Mateo41157560
San Francisco36032523
Santa Barbara33896446
Solano31875239
Merced31196452
Sonoma29696311
Imperial27987719
Kings22774245
Placer21751283
San Luis Obispo20917256
Madera16260239
Santa Cruz15571204
Marin13861226
Yolo13580200
Shasta11677217
Butte11573196
El Dorado9719109
Napa966679
Sutter9268109
Yuba609844
San Benito598663
Lassen566924
Tehama543056
Nevada445775
Tuolumne406664
Mendocino398747
Amador362551
Humboldt358737
Lake340943
Glenn235725
Colusa219816
Calaveras205551
Siskiyou194021
Inyo141738
Del Norte12747
Mono12734
Plumas6906
Modoc4884
Mariposa4247
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned610
Medford
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 63°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 47°
Medford
Mostly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 63°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 63°
Klamath Falls
Mostly Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 55°
Shower chances later tonight
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events