PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) – Another big concern with this ongoing pandemic is the skyrocketing unemployment numbers in South Dakota. The staff at the Department of Labor is extremely busy right now.
Last week alone, South Dakota’s Department of Labor and Regulation saw more than 6,500 new claims.
Secretary Marcia Hultman says it’s a substantial increase.
“This time of year a normal claims week would be approximately 190 claims,” secretary of Department of Labor and Regulation, Marcia Hultman said.
That means the phone lines have been extremely busy. Wait times can reach up to an hour and a half.
“It’s really frustrating for people, none of us want to be on hold under any circumstance for that length of time, we are currently adding capacity, we are adding people and phone lines so that should improve, but as the claims go up, the demand goes up so you can just anticipate if you call there will be a wait,” Hultman said.
Bill McEntaffer is the division director for field operations. He and his staff are changing the way they work in response to the surge of calls.
“As part of the director of field operations it is to oversee the different job offices around the state, which provides the services to customers, job seekers, businesses,” division director for field operations, Bill McEntaffer said. “That emphasis has changed, we’ve had some individuals staggering shifts to come into the local offices to assist with the claim center, putting everybody through a quick course of how to do that.”
That’s why the state is encouraging you to file online, rather than call. And above all, you need to be patient.
“We will get to you as soon as we can, we really hope we can provide the services that we always have done to the people of South Dakota, but be patient and we will get your claims done as soon as possible,” McEntaffer said.
Hultman has a few quick tips to make things a little easier including knowing your work history, remembering your username and password, and remember to call or go online once, a week to request payment, otherwise you will not get a payment.