The state of Oregon has paid $4.1 billion in unemployment claims since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but the acting director of the Oregon Employment Department faced criticism for delays in issuing payments to claimants, according to a KPTV report.
Since the novel coronavirus shut down businesses, government agencies and nonprofits in March, more than 556,000 people have filed claims for unemployment, the department reported.
But during a three-day Senate committee hearing, state lawmakers asked acting director David Gerstenfeld why some constituents have waited hours on the phone and others have failed to receive any payments after filing claims. Gerstenfeld said the department’s workload jumped from record low claims to record high numbers nearly overnight, forcing employees to adjust quickly.
During the hearing, lawmakers listened to complaints from people who said they haven’t received the financial help needed to keep them afloat during the pandemic.