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Shapiro Administration Announces Significant Decrease In Call Wait Times For Unemployment Compensation Claimants



Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Nancy A. Walker today announced significant strides toward shorter wait times for Unemployment Compensation (UC) claimants who call the Department's helpline for customer service help. Since late February, wait times for claimants who have called the UC Service Centers have averaged just over 20 minutes -- a huge improvement since the start of the Shapiro Administration, when the wait times averaged more than an hour for customer service.


Under Governor Josh Shapiro's leadership and with bipartisan support in the 2023-24 budget, L&I leveraged the Service Improvement and Infrastructure Fund (SIIF) to hire more than 380 additional UC interviewers to staff service centers and answer calls since January 2023. The impact of that investment is clear: wait times for phone assistance have decreased dramatically, and Pennsylvanians are once again receiving the efficient, timely customer service they deserve.


"The day before Thanksgiving in 2022, claimants averaged 20 attempts to reach UC by phone. In 2023, on that same day, it took only one attempt for most claimants to reach a UC staffer by phone. That's incredible progress in one year, thanks to the commitment of the UC team and a bipartisan budget that enabled us to hire more intake interviewers," Secretary Walker said. "I'm thrilled that wait times are down to about 20 minutes, but we're not stopping there. With proper funding, we can continue making progress to deliver for our communities and meet the customer-service expectations of Pennsylvanians who depend on us during times of hardship."


To further diversify customer-service options for claimants and reduce wait times, L&I recently established a new helpdesk (1-855-284-8545) for UC claimants to schedule in-person UC Connect appointments at PA CareerLink® locations and get assistance with routine questions, such as how to log in to the UC system, reset a PIN, or change contact information on file. The helpline is staffed by individuals supported by L&I's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), which helps Pennsylvanians with disabilities pursue meaningful employment and independence.


In the 2024-25 budget, Governor Shapiro is proposing an additional $68 million authorization for SIIF that will allow L&I to maintain its complement and continue to reduce both the call wait time for claimants and the time it takes to issue determinations. Without the requested SIIF funding, L&I's expenses will outpace revenues and L&I will be forced to realign UC programs with the minimum funding provided by the federal government.


UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

One year after Governor Shapiro took office and promised to get the UC system back on track, L&I has made significant strides toward enhanced customer service. Under Secretary Walker's leadership, L&I distributed more than $1.7 billion in UC benefits in 2023 to about 326,000 Pennsylvanians – all of whom experienced the loss of a job or work hours through no fault of their own.


Thanks to a bipartisan 2023-24 budget investment that allowed more workers and resources to be dedicated to the UC system, L&I in 2024 will continue to improve customer service and make progress toward shorter timelines for the determination of new claims.


In February 2024, L&I received 39,683 claims and distributed UC benefits totaling $203,625,633 to 113,653 eligible claimants.

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