LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky is finalizing a contract with an “outside vendor” to help process a backlog of thousands unemployment claims while planning opportunities for people to get in-person help with unemployment at locations “out in the state” in coming weeks, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.
Beshear didn’t reveal the contractor or other details about when the help will come and at what cost, though he said: “I will pay whatever it takes to get this thing fixed.”
Beshear also said Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary Larry Roberts will assume direct control and responsibility for the system as the commissioner of unemployment insurance. Beshear is transferring unemployment administration from the state Education & Workforce Development Cabinet to the Labor Cabinet.
Beshear’s moves come after Kentucky drew national headlines last week when thousands of people descended on Frankfort over four days, many standing in line for hours, to get help with their unemployment claims.
The state had not offered in-person help with unemployment since before the pandemic drove up joblessness in March. Last week’s pop-up availability of unemployment staffers was prompted by a small protest that started at the state Capitol on Tuesday.
Beshear said the contractor will help to process claims, to communicate with claimants and to train “adjudicators” who can navigate the aging computer system that handles unemployment.
“Having outside help is going to speed that process up, and I am not willing to wait any longer for us to be able to do it internally,” Beshear said during his coronavirus news briefing on Monday.
Beshear said last week that Kentucky still had 52,692 unprocessed unemployment claims from March, April and June, including 7,566 dating to March. Kentucky has received about 1 million unemployment claims since the pandemic began, Beshear said.
Beshear said the cabinet is planning more opportunities for people to receive in-person help with unemployment claims later this week, but he did not elaborate.
WDRB Media has been sharing names and contact information of people who have been having trouble with unemployment with Beshear’s office since May 21, when the governor asked us to do so during a live interview.
On Monday, we gave Beshear’s office information for 2,531 people who have contacted us since June 16.