DWD clears unemployment claim backlog


MADISON, Wis. — The Department of Workforce Development has cleared its months-long backlog of unemployment insurance claims.

The DWD has faced criticism since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic for its handling of UI payment disbursements.

The announcement comes the same day that Gov. Tony Evers officially appointed Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek as DWD secretary following former Secretary Caleb Frostman’s resignation. Frostman resigned at Evers’ request in September.

“Since the start of the pandemic, our top priority at DWD has been ensuring that all eligible unemployment claims in Wisconsin are paid as quickly as possible,” Pechacek said. “Today, I am proud to say we have reached our goal to clear the backlog of claims. The tireless work of DWD staff has made it possible for UI to resume its seasonal level of timeliness in January.”

According to a news release, DWD has hired, contracted or reassigned nearly 1,300 people in the past few months to help with the UI backlog.

Officials said they’ve processed nearly 8.8 million weekly claims since March 15. That’s up from the 7.2 million claims processed from 2016 to 2019.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, claim resolution was considered timely if it was completed within 21 days of the date the issue was noticed. Any remaining eligibility issues over 21 days old have been assigned for adjudication, which is the investigation and resolution of eligibility issues raised on UI claims.