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Oregon House Democrats urge 'bold action' to clear backlog of unemployment claims

House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner, D-Portland, addressed a statement to the Oregon Employment Department on Wednesday — exhorting the agency to address unpaid claims.

Posted: May 13, 2020 2:38 PM

SALEM, Ore. — On Wednesday, Democrats in the Oregon House urged the state's Employment Department to address the backlog of unpaid unemployment claims that have been building since mass lay-offs began in mid-March.

“Bold action, that also protects the health and safety of agency staff, is needed from the leadership at the Employment Department, now more than ever," said House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner, D-Portland, in a statement. "We are in unprecedented times — relying on the old ways of doing things will only lead to further delays for vulnerable families."

Warner acknowledged that workers at the Oregon Employment Department (OED) have worked hard to process the influx of new unemployment claims "under trying, stressful conditions." But she said that many Oregonians have continued to wait for their benefits despite countless hours on clogged phone lines and unaddressed emails.


RELATED: Oregon now offering unemployment benefits to the self-employed, contractors, gig workers


In its latest update, OED reported that 83 percent of initial claims submitted between March 15 and May 2 had been processed, and the agency had been processing more claims than it received for at least four weeks. Nonetheless, some Oregonians have continued to report having not received any payments from the agency despite having filed weeks or months ago.

"We are hearing each day from our neighbors who are fed up and scared about the road forward," said Warner. "Despite having filed a claim months ago, [they] have not received the payments they are due. It is beyond time for these claims to be met with action."

Warner said that OED could help prevent further delays by enacting reforms, including allowing some staff to work remotely so that more workers are available to answer calls and emails during normal business hours. She also suggested "safely" bringing in retired OED staff to handle the most complicated and time-consuming cases.

“Oregonians are struggling — they need action and they need it now,” Warner said.

OED has received more than 381,000 initial claims since the business closures and lay-offs began in March. At last report, it had 635 employees working on claims, and was still working to hire more.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 345344

Reported Deaths: 4084
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah54651678
Washington37724310
Marion35705439
Clackamas28835298
Lane26661291
Jackson22465297
Deschutes19252122
Umatilla14081139
Linn12200114
Douglas11664238
Josephine9174191
Yamhill8438108
Klamath7549106
Polk707380
Malheur542374
Benton521531
Coos481591
Columbia368143
Jefferson355650
Union309944
Lincoln306033
Wasco275839
Crook263643
Clatsop238027
Baker195628
Tillamook191926
Hood River186036
Morrow180223
Curry177019
Harney106424
Grant96512
Lake86910
Wallowa65712
Gilliam1484
Sherman1453
Wheeler941
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4802761

Reported Deaths: 70456
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles147341026379
Riverside3689534978
San Diego3631694151
San Bernardino3558485562
Orange3224975513
Sacramento1574982273
Santa Clara1443001886
Fresno1437452048
Kern1437161600
Alameda1197741365
San Joaquin1016431696
Ventura1004421162
Contra Costa99102969
Stanislaus849231310
Tulare78753945
San Francisco53974644
San Mateo53781618
Monterey50676582
Solano45734334
Santa Barbara44770518
Merced41680577
Sonoma40638400
Placer38813412
Imperial35591762
Kings32197312
San Luis Obispo29590330
Madera23420281
Butte23298257
Shasta23230334
Santa Cruz20830217
Yolo20092247
Marin17570243
El Dorado16947149
Sutter13762169
Napa12797100
Yuba992780
Tehama9240103
Humboldt9085108
Nevada902590
Mendocino751686
Lassen743743
San Benito735972
Tuolumne671793
Lake6499103
Amador536763
Siskiyou442742
Glenn429930
Calaveras380279
Del Norte355739
Colusa301618
Inyo194239
Mono16285
Plumas15476
Mariposa126215
Trinity85811
Modoc6678
Sierra1710
Unassigned1480
Alpine1020
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