NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Franklin resident Nicholas Shubert’s story unfortunately isn’t unique, waiting to get answers about his pending unemployment benefits.
“You’re sitting in a queue of 500-plus people, which may or may not get through that day, and it just cuts off at the end if you’re getting close,” Shubert said.
It’s stories like this that keep Jeff McCord, the Commissioner for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, up at night.
“I’ve prayed more over these past 10 months, not only for our department, but also for the people we served, more than I ever have in my life,” McCord said. “Let me assure you, we care. In 10 months, our folks in unemployment insurance have worked 43,000 hours of overtime. If you translate that, that’s 22 years.”
McCord said the department has added 600 employees. Between 80 and 85 specially trained employees are helping people with their issues, but the demand had been unprecedented.
“Over a million claims, and actually that’s just from March to December,” McCord said.
“When News4 asked the department via email if it has conducted any performance audits to track how it has handled wait times and issues within the system, the answer was no.
“We are in a constant state of process improvement and we are very honest with ourselves about what we need to do to get better,” McCord said. “Our biggest push now is automation, so that we process faster, but the thing about automation, if you don’t have human intervention, even though you can go faster, you can make mistakes faster as well.”
For those who are critical about the Department of Labor’s performance over the past year, McCord wants you to know this:
“We feel the weight of it, we know people are suffering and hurting and we’re working hard to distribute the benefits to people who are eligible.”
Until Shubert gets his issues fixed, he’s not convinced the department is doing everything to help his family, and thousands of others who are waiting on a call back.
“The system’s broken. The system needs to be fixed. That’s the most frustrating part,” Shubert said. “They had the time to address this. They’re not addressing it.”