Jobless claims declining, but angst lingers for unemployed CSRA residents

Thursday, May 21, 2020

With record highs in unemployment -- 30 million claims across the United States alone -- Georgia is paying out more during the pandemic than in the past four years combined. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Unemployment is reaching an all-time high, basically everywhere, and agencies are still sifting through claims.

After an initial surge, first-time claims have been decreasing weekly. So we checked to see if the wait times are, too.

It varies case by case but overall, there is no drastic drop in how long it takes for unemployment benefits.

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The line between sinking and swimming seems drenched in confusion for some people.

“I’m just lost more than anything," Kendrick Fludd said.

He’s barely afloat right now, but at this rate of waiting on unemployment, he soon may no longer be able to tread water.

“Without no help, I will drown," Fludd said. "Like, I’m finally getting out of, I guess I would call it, the deep-end of the pool. But I’m not staying above the poverty level that I need to be at."

He went from working two jobs to waiting seven weeks now for South Carolina unemployment to kick in. Fludd even faced living in his car until a church family took him in.

“Thank God that I am blessed to still have people in my corner that would do that for me," he said.

Right now, the average wait time for the Palmetto State is still at 21 days. And it's a similar story that remains on the Georgia side, too.

"It's not meant to be a fast process. It's meant to be a careful, thoughtful process," Commissioner Mark Butler of the Georgia Department of Labor said.

Agencies continue to find these as factors in hold-ups:

• Filing or certifying your claim multiple times.
• A missing or incorrect digit in your address, social security, or even birth date.
• Employer-filed claims process faster because individual claims require verification investigations.

"I don't really think we're going to see a significant change in the unemployment rate until we get pass the end of July.," Butler said.

And this past week, South Carolina saw almost 30,000 claims. Georgia saw 177,000 new ones.

But they are getting answered. Although weekly claims are declining, the systems are still overwhelmed -- leaving thousands to wait in what feels like the same sinking boat.

“It's honestly frustrating. ... keeping up with food, keeping up with everything," Fludd said. “I still don’t understand as to why it’s taking so long."

Both agencies of the two-state extended their hours to keep up with demand. And they say do not call, rely on assistance through the online portals.

Also with Memorial Day being a federal holiday, means there may be additional delays in processing claims.

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