SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – A record amount of people are filing for unemployment here in Iowa. The new claims are causing strains on the system.
To help prevent spreading of the virus, IowaWORKS in Sioux City is no longer taking walk-ins. They ask that anyone needing assistance either call or make an appointment. Some people filing said they are facing long wait times over the phone or the website crashes. They said this is making it especially difficult for them to file for unemployment.
IowaWORKS has moved most of its staff to it’s call center to help deal with the overwhelming number of people filing for unemployment.
John Dillavou said he’s struggled to get a hold of someone to talk to at IowaWORKS in the past. He said because of COVID-19 forcing people to apply for unemployment, it’s even more difficult.
“In the past it’s always been a little hard to communicate through unemployment. It’s always been a big issue getting a call in, that’s why I came here today,” Dillavou said.
MacKenzie Reiling is the operations manager at IowaWORKS. She said despite the website having technical issues right now, it’s still the most efficient way to file for unemployment.
“If you’re finding that the system is timing out or if it’s taking a long time, I would suggest trying to file again at a later time even in a couple hours just to give that system a break,” Reiling said.
Brandon Russ didn’t want to appear on camera. He said being out of a job is stressful enough without getting the runaround from IowaWORKS.
“Before I could even touch the door handle I’m told to stop where I’m at and call an 8-6-6 number. We call the 8-6-6 and when we get through, they tell us to speak with someone here at this local office. So it’s kind of a going in circles,” Russ said.
Reiling said those situations are not typical. She said they are working around the clock to make sure their system is fluid and people are being helped.
“I think it’s important for customers to realize we are doing the best we can considering the volume that we have and we definitely don’t want customers to feel like they are that ping pong ball going back and forth,” Reiling said.
She said it’s important to keep in mind that Mondays and Tuesdays are typically their highest volume days and you have until Saturday to file a weekly claim.