PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Tens of thousands of Oregonians are going on two months without any income or information on their unemployment claims from the state employment department.

According to the Oregon Employment Department, the state is dealing with a backlog of 38,000 unprocessed Unemployment Insurance claims.

"I have, literally, I think like $100 in my checking account right now," Portland Uber driver Joseph Larson said.

Larson said he's entering his tenth week without income after filing for unemployment on March 26. He said he found out a couple weeks ago through somebody in a different department that his claim was approved, but he still hasn't seen a payment.

"For like the first three weeks, I guess, I called a couple times a day and I have not gotten through once," Larson said.

He took a screenshot of one of his hold times of more than four hours before he said he gave up.

Oregon Employment Department backlogged with 38,000 claims

KPTV image.

King City behavior analyst Kori Saunby said besides the email confirming that OED received her claim after filing on March 27, she hasn't gotten any information on its status.

"I haven't paid rent since March, I haven't paid my bills," Saunby said. "I'm in survival mode."

Saunby said she was furloughed for five weeks and recently got her job back with reduced hours. In an effort to catch up with bill payments, Saunby said she was forced to pawn her late parents' wedding rings.

"That's all I had left," Saunby said. "That took a huge toll on me but I didn't know what else to do."

OED is scrambling to catch up, too. Director Kay Erickson sent a statement Tuesday, saying in part:

"Oregon is facing unprecedented unemployment and hundreds of thousands of Oregon families are counting on unemployment benefits to pay for their basic needs. While the Oregon Employment Department has paid a record number of Oregonians within two to three weeks, for too many Oregonians, their claims are in a backlog. We know how frustrating it has been for those who are trying to reach us about the status of their claims and have been unable to get through. That is why we are launching Project Focus 100."

According to the statement, the department's goal is to process 100 percent of the backlogged claims as quickly as possible by implementing four main strategies: continue to hire more staffers, focus the most experienced workers on the oldest and most complicated claims, increase contact and communication, and use tech strategies to speed up processing.

Metrics posted to the OED's COVID-19 webpage  indicate that the department has increased its work force from 110 people processing claims in early March to 690 staffers in early May.

The department's website reports that more than 360,000 unemployment claims have been processed since March 15, but those are only regular Unemployment Insurance claims. According to the website, data on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims is not available.

FOX 12 reached out to the OED spokesperson on Tuesday but did not get a response.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

Locations

Recommended for you

(11) comments

sagebrush

Don't put all the blame on the incompetent governor. The liberal bottom feeders in the Portland area put her in office and they are just as responsible. They have the power of the vote and are destroying Oregon. Do they care? Not one bit. In order for Oregon to recover Portland has to be put out of action. This would be a perfect time for the big earthquake. It will destroy Portland, which is a victory for the rest of the state.

Terrell Higgs

Brown does not care about this, she and the OR gov only care about giving free food and shelter to people who produce nothing for the economy or society. And people in the media blame the Feds for this, the feds have not taken one job away, it's the governors.

NOYB

Mr. Brown doesn't give a flick about these comments or any others. Washington County law enforcement laptops are forever crashing just like Salem in general. Oregonians have seen their state turned into a haven for crooks and illegals where Nike and special interest minorities receive preference over the public. Maybe it's time to make Portland normal again.

sagebrush

Can't happen unless the liberals are put out of business.

Sun Tzu

'I'm in survival mode': Oregon Employment Department backlogged with 38,000 claims' I wonder what Kate Brown and the state did with the millions of dollars the feds gave them to upgrade the computers?

Bahlsach

She should write a personal check from the millions she stole from WE THE PEOPLE.

jburn

Will all of these people harmed by Brown still vote for her? Blue state monopoly, probably so.

Sun Tzu

Well you know Portland would vote for her again if she was able to run for another term. But as it is they will have to settle for Tina Kotek who is just as bad or even worse that Kate Brown.

lue c4

maybe we need to set up homeless camps and food lines & maybe free health care for these people? we will have a vaccine as good as the flu vaccine so this hoax can be over by election time.

Squib

She took away their jobs and forced them into a broken system to die in poverty. It's criminal

PDX2MtHood

Great job Gov brownie. Such a strict lockdown has hurt hundreds of thousands of Oregonians.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.