Business closures because of COVID-19 are leading to numbers of unemployment benefit claims that aren't just breaking records -- they're smashing them.
"In the last 19 days, we have helped over half a million Texans file for unemployment insurance," the Texas Workforce Commission's Cisco Gamez. "To put that in perspective, in all of 2019, the Texas Workforce Commission processed just over 700,000 claims.
It's a year's worth of work in only a month's time, and it's leading to frustration for some people who would like to receive benefits. KRIS 6 News has received several calls from people who say they haven't been able to get through to the TWC hotline, and they've had problems on the commission's website too.
"I’m just going to ask them to be patient with us," Gamez said. "These are unusual times. Before COVID-19, on an average day, the Texas Workforce Commission would receive around 13,000. That’s on an average day. The record before COVID-19 was 60,000 calls in a single day. Last week we had calls up to -- and over -- .7 million calls in a single day. That’s not the number of people filing but calling in a single day."
In hopes of keeping up with the extreme call load, Gamez said the agency has moved around hundreds of workers. And in the last two weeks the commission has made 100 emergency hires.
"We are making changes," he said. "We are trying to adjust. We are looking at all options for helping Texans in need."
Gamez recommends filing your claim online, especially between 1-6 a.m. when the fewest number of people are using the website. You can access it by clicking here .
If you choose to apply by phone, call 800-939-6631. It may take awhile to get through, but Gamez said your persistence will pay off.
"If (you) qualify for unemployment insurance, (you) will receive benefits,” he said.