More than 300,000 new unemployment claims filed in Wisconsin since March 15

State officials say initial unemployment claims in Wisconsin ballooned 1,600 percent from March 15 through April 6, due to layoffs primarily from the coronavirus pandemic.

The total number of new applications submitted for unemployment benefits was 313,068, with weekly claims for that period reaching 589,616. The total amount in unemployment benefits distributed equaled $68,759,104.

That's compared to 17,748 new claims during the same period a year ago.

"The fact that initial claims ballooned by more than 1,600% illustrates the unprecedented nature of this pandemic and its effect on our economy," Secretary Caleb Frostman said. "The IT infrastructure of the UI division was not adequately modernized coming out of the Great Recession, which has forced DWD's staff to work overtime, nights, and weekends to process unemployment claims to support out-of-work Wisconsinites. We are confident that our accelerated and expanded hiring, along with real-time telecom and IT improvements will help alleviate claimant backlogs. Nevertheless, we understand how important it is to get these payments out as quickly as possible, and we are doing everything we can to get people the help they need."

To handle the record volume of unemployment claims, DWD has taken extensive internal measures to meet the demand.

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