This story has been updated as of Wednesday at 5:45 p.m. to include news from Gov. Beshear's daily press conference.
In efforts to address high call volumes for unemployment benefits across the commonwealth, 145 additional employees from three state Cabinets have come on board to help with unemployment claims, according to Lt. Governor Jacquline Coleman.
Coleman, who was elected as lieutenant governor in November, is also the Secretary for the Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development, and says she hopes to see the number of workers reach 200.
As of Wednesday, Coleman reported 30 times the number of applications the unemployment office would see normally.
This is a result of a recent and lengthy list of closures mandated by Gov. Andy Beshear, who has become popular for his daily press conferences in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is a very large number,” Coleman told The Register on Wednesday. “We are in unprecedented times. We ask for patience as we update the system to handle something that we have never handled before.”
Be it servers or hairstylists, those who were formerly employed found themselves clamoring for financial reprieve when their source of income was no longer as of last week.
Because of high volumes, the online filing system crashed, warranting immediate action again by the state.
“We have made a lot of steps very quickly to update the system to handle the volume,” Colelman said.
According to her, the system’s server capacity was upgraded seven fold and a back up system was installed so that incase of disconnect, a claim would be filed automatically.
“If something were to happen while online and the system goes down, they won’t have to worry,” she said.
Gov. Beshear also instituted an alphabetized unemployment filing schedule which assigns filing days throughout the week which coincide with an individual’s first letter of their last name as follows:
• Sunday, A-D
• Monday, E-H
• Tuesday, I-L
• Wednesday, M-P
• Thursday, Q-U
• Friday, V-Z, or if you missed your specific day
“That will help to not have issues with it not crashing and is spread out,” Coleman said of the schedule. “I also want to reiterate to folks that waiting until your assigned day does not affect your payment balance.”
As of Wednesday, the governor announced "good news" regarding unemployment, which allows those we are self-employed contractors, freelancers or substitute teachers to apply and receive unemployment benefits, which was formerly not allowed.
"This is the news we have been waiting for," Gov. Beshear said.
And just like Gov. Beshear, Coleman encourages anyone to apply for benefits that need them and reassures there is no stigma for applying for public assistance.
“That is what we are here for,” she said. “This is affecting people that would be working if it weren’t for an abundance of caution on our part to save lives. Everyone who needs it should absolutely apply for it...We are working day and night to make sure all Kentuckians can get it.
“We will continue to stress if they need help and their business has been closed, or they have been laid off, this is what this is here for, for them.”
She said as uncertain as times are, she is very inspired by the collaborative spirit seen in Kentucky communities through outreach of different groups, be it schools feeding kids or working with state agencies to get them the resources needed.
“The same spirit you are seeing of extending support as much as we can in the state, we are seeing in the community by anyone that can find a way to help,” she said, "and that is what we turn to in times like this.”
To file an unemployment claim, visit https://kcc.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx. Claims can also be filed via phone by contacting 1-502-875-0442.