Wisconsin Watch is a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on government integrity and quality of life issues, and we always provide our news for free.
You can read all of our coronavirus/COVID-19 coverage by signing up for our Wisconsin COVID-19 Update newsletter, and please consider becoming a member to support our nonprofit journalism.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Friday announced the ouster of Caleb Frostman, the workforce development secretary, citing his department’s delays in processing unemployment insurance claims. The Department of Workforce Development’s struggles leave jobless Wisconsinites waiting weeks or even months for income during the pandemic-induced recession.
Evers said he asked for and received Frostman’s resignation, which is effective immediately. Department of Corrections Deputy Secretary Amy Pechacek will lead the DWD’s transition until a new secretary is appointed, Evers’ office said in a news release.
“People across our state are struggling to make ends meet, and it is unacceptable that Wisconsinites continue to wait for the support they need during these challenging times,” Evers, a Democrat, said in a statement. “It is clear that our unemployment system has faced historic levels of claims these past few months, hindered in part by antiquated technology we inherited, and processes designed by Republicans to make it harder for folks to get these benefits.”
The DWD has received more than 6.5 million unemployment insurance claims since mid-March, and more than 713,500 claims (10.9%) have yet to be processed, according to data released Monday. Those claims represent more than 93,000 people.
The agency so far paid more than $3.68 billion to nearly 514,000 claimants during the pandemic, the data show.
Frostman and Democrats have blamed his agency’s slow pace on a chronically underfunded and outdated computer system and initial short staffing that left his agency ill-equipped to handle the rapid onslaught of claims. Republican lawmakers accused Frostman and Evers of lacking urgency — waiting too long to expand call center hours and shift employees to address the biggest problems.
More than 130 DWD employees were reassigned to the Unemployment Insurance Division during the pandemic, according to Evers’ office. The agency now has more than 1,500 people working on UI cases, a 250% increase compared to previous years.
For more on the state’s unemployment insurance crisis — and its impact on Wisconsinites — see our series Lives on Hold.
Tony Evers firing DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman over unemployment claim backlog — Wisconsin State Journal
Coronavirus in Wisconsin schools: Search and track COVID-19 cases — USA Today Network-Wisconsin
With the return of Badgers football, city leaders discourage large game-day gatherings — Wisconsin State Journal
More than 2,500 COVID-19 cases reported Friday, shattering previous records — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
As the pandemic grinds on, the Northwoods beckons many seeking solitude, natural social distancing — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Emails detail effort to silence CDC and question its science — The New York Times
What are we missing? And how are you coping? Help us provide critical information and accountability by filling out this form or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.[ad number=”1″]
Food access trouble?
We know that when classes are virtual, many Wisconsin students and families lose access to food schools provide. And as the school year starts, some meal sites are closing. Share your experience with News414, Wisconsin Watch’s service journalism collaboration with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Outlier Media. Click here for details.
Data to note
Here are the latest statewide visualizations of COVID-19 cases and deaths from our partners at WisContext.
People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us: email@example.com.
Job strategist shares secrets to search the ‘hidden job market’ — WTMJ-TV
You must be logged in to post a comment.