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State says long-awaited pandemic unemployment payments issued May 21

PHOTO: Unemployment claim form, Photo Date: April 2014 (Source: MGN Photo - Julie Chasen / MGN)
PHOTO: Unemployment claim form, Photo Date: April 2014 (Source: MGN Photo - Julie Chasen / MGN)(KMVT)
Published: May. 27, 2020 at 9:42 AM CDT
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The Department of Workforce Development says it started issuing long-awaited payments for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance on May 21.

The funding is a federal program that provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to people who are not eligible for Unemployment Insurance. It was passed as part of the CARES Act. The application process started April 21.

DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman says people who are eligible for the PUA payments will be notified by mail and in their claims portal.

The funding is in response to the massive unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Applicants have spoken out about the lengthy wait to receive these benefits.

Frostman says applications for PUA took longer to process.

"It is important to note that PUA is not like our normal UI process, so it takes much longer to process an application," Frostman says.

Frostman spoke before the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform Wednesday.

to watch on Wisconsin Eye.

Frostman says red tape prevent the state from quickly distributing the funds.

"While it has publicly been suggested to take shortcuts and make payments quicker, our statutes, which require legislative action to change, do not allow it," says Frostman. "The federal government does not permit this. The Department of Labor has consistently enforced a requirement that UI benefits only be paid when due and not to pay benefits until all issues that affect an individual’s entitlement to UI are adjudicated after giving both the claimant and the employer the opportunity to be heard during the adjudication process."

Frostman is asking for lawmakers to invest in upgrading the state's unemployment system.

"We've all seen the consequences of deferred action, and we need to make sure our system is prepared for the next time Wisconsinites need to access the economic lifeline of unemployment insurance," says Frostman.

Here's Frostman's full statement on the delay:

for more information on PUA.

The April unemployment rate in Wisconsin was 14.1 percent.

Wisconsin lost 439,400 non-farm and 385,900 private-sector jobs from March 2020 to April 2020.

DWD released the following Unemployment numbers from March 15-May 23:

--Unemployment Applications Received - 577,213

--Weekly Claims Received - 2,413,467

--Weekly Claims Paid - 1,684,980

--Total Benefits Paid - $1,351,027,535 (including federal pandemic unemployment compensation)

--FPUC Benefits Paid - $869,062,275

--Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Applications Received - 87,713

--PUA Benefits Paid - $108,424

--Unemployment Insurance Calls Received for week of May 16 - 3,099,071

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