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Texas Unemployment Claims Rise, State System Continues to Struggle

The Texas Workforce Commission will hire hundreds of people to help handle the volume of calls they are receiving in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic

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As hundreds of thousands of North Texans continue to work through filing unemployment, the system in place to manage their filings remains overwhelmed.

“You never get a straight answer about what is going on,” Chris Sarber said.

Sarber said he was able to successfully file for unemployment in the middle of March when he lost his job due to COVID-19, but since then he said he has received no clarity on why he has not received scheduled payments.

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“I understand a lot of people are going through the same situation I am, but I don’t think the unemployment office should just turn their phones off,” Sarber said.

Sarber and thousands of others have tried to call the Texas Workforce Commission in hopes of speaking with a person, but due to demand have been unable to get through.

“These are unusual times, I know a lot of us are sheltering in place, so we are just asking Texans to be patient with us, we are making changes and adding more staff,” said Cisco Gamez with the Texas Work Force Commission.

Gamez said they were hiring hundreds of new staff to take calls and improving their technological capacity to field all the filings. A date for when the system will be up to speed was not known.

“They will, they just need to be patient with us, these are unusual times,” Gamez said.

The TWC has rolled out a chat bot on their website named "Larry." The bot directs users to the portion of the site where they can file for unemployment and can answer basic questions, but during peak usage times even the chat bot responds that it is unable to help due to the volume of traffic.

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