Texas Workforce Commission Asks for Patience as Record Number of Texans Apply for Unemployment Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Online access to apply for benefits has been slow because of so many users applying

Unemployment benefits application

The number of people in the Dallas Region applying for unemployment benefits is up 184% compared to this time last year.

With so many businesses in North Texas having to close, unemployment numbers are expected to skyrocket over the next few weeks.  Jobs most heavily impacted could be the service industry as restaurants and bars are closed.

This week, Gov. Greg Abbott instructed the Texas Workforce Commission to waive the waiting week for unemployment benefits.  In addition, TWC is working under the Governor’s declaration of a statewide disaster to waive unemployment insurance work search requirements effective immediately. 

While President Trump put together a $1 trillion emergency stimulus plan, only half of that will reach individuals and the amounts will vary by household. 

A spokesperson for TWC, tells NBC 5 that from March 1-March 18 more than 94,400 people have applied for unemployment benefits statewide.  In the Dallas region alone, more than 27,000 have applied.  Compared to this same timeframe last year, only 9,495 people in the Dallas region applied.  

TWC says it should only take seven minutes to apply online, however, demand is so high, a viewer reported issues to NBC 5 saying it took more than five hours to complete an application.

“TWC has about 10K web site visitors a day. Tuesday, March 17, we had 40K web site visitors and on Wednesday, March 18, we had 50K web site visitors, “said Francisco Gamez, spokesman for TWC.

“We recognize the inconvenience this causing for our customers and are working quickly with our agency partner, the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) to resolve issues and accommodate the increased number of users on TWC’s website,” said Gamez.

TWC said on March 19 it was working on making updates to the server, in hopes of helping serve the number of users online.

On Monday, March 23, we asked Gamez about issues with the website being down and phone lines being jammed.

"We're really sorry people are running into any issues. We are working around the clock, we are working extended hours, we are making changes to accommodate the number of people who are filing for unemployment. We want to help Texans in needs, we're committed to doing that. And we will follow up, and we'll follow through. We just ask them to be patient with us," Gamez said. "We have over a 1,000 people working in unemployment insurance benefits services, they're working around the clock, they're working late hours, long hours, over the weekend, they are following up and following through with everyone who is able to get through, leave a message or connect in. We're just asking to be patient with us. We understand your frustrations... we're all in this together, so we want to help Texans, we just ask them to be patient with us, we're here for them."

Gamez said the best way to get through is the website and that Texans should keep trying.

NBC 5 has gathered a list of resources here: 

Apply for Texas Unemployment Benefits

TWC’s online job-search engine

Local Workforce Solutions Office Search

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