CT Department Of Labor Marks 1st Anniversary Of Consumer Contact Center; Provides Work Search And Other Updates
(Wethersfield, CT) – Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) Interim Commissioner Danté Bartolomeo today announced that the Consumer Contact Center has handled nearly 1.4 million calls and cases since being established in July 2020. The agency also reminds filers that work search reporting is now online and federal unemployment programs are due to expire on September 4, 2021 in Connecticut.
Commissioner Bartolomeo said, “The Consumer Contact Center helped us reestablish a direct link to our customers at a critical time; I want to thank the front lines claims agents who, every day, help thousands of residents navigate the complexities of state unemployment and all the new federal programs. Each unemployment claim is based on individual factors including salary and work history. Given the different eligibility requirements for each unemployment program, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for filers—when questions arise, they really need the one-on-one assistance that the Contact Center provides.”
Quick facts about the Consumer Contact Center:
- Claimants can call in, use online services or the chatbot, or make an appointment to speak with a customer service agent.
- Services are available in English and Spanish.
- There are approximately 100 trained customer service representatives available to help claimants with state unemployment as well as the four federal programs currently underway.
- The Contact Center handles an average of 26,000 calls and cases per week.
- The chatbot has assisted about 140,000 filers.
- Call volume remains high, the agency recommends that customers call first thing in the morning and please be patient.
Consumer Contact Center Director Angel Rivera said, “Last year at this time, the pandemic had closed the American Job Centers where people usually get assistance with unemployment. We had thousands of people calling each day and CTDOL staff from units across the agency were answering phones. Unemployment is complicated, and the new federal programs each had different eligibility requirements as well, so all of it was very confusing for our customers, especially residents who never filed before. The Contact Center agents help customers understand the programs and can solve issues quickly—that is a big relief for claimants and helps ease some of the pandemic stress.”
Work search updates:
Currently, there are about 150,000 weekly unemployment claims filers, this is down from a high of nearly 400,000 in May of 2020. In a non-pandemic year, CTDOL has about 40,000 weekly filers.
CTDOL reminds claimants that the work search requirement is in effect; they must file their work search activities online with their weekly certification or risk losing benefits for a week or longer. Federal unemployment programs established during the pandemic will expire in Connecticut on September 4, 2021 and are not expected to be re-authorized by Congress. Connecticut’s state unemployment and extended benefits programs are still available.
Commissioner Bartolomeo said, “If you are unemployed or thinking about making a job change, now is the time to look. It’s a job seekers market—so many available jobs mean plenty of options to find full time work, perhaps a higher salary or better benefits, and even allow workers to break into new careers. With Governor Lamont’s $1,000 Back to Work incentive, now’s the time to get out there and find that great new position.”
Governor Ned Lamont’s Back to Work program, unveiled in May, incentivizes the long-term unemployed to return to the workforce with a potential $1,000 bonus payment.
AMERICAN JOB CENTERS
Connecticut’s American Job Centers and career service centers are open for virtual and in-person assistance. The agency strongly recommends that customers make an appointment for services rather than walk in. Unemployment assistance services continue to be available through the Consumer Contact Center. Face masks are required in American Job Centers.
- The Trust Fund balance is nearly $212M.
- To date, the state has borrowed $725M for the Trust Fund.
- Since March 13, 2020, CTDOL has disbursed $9.25 billion in unemployment benefits:
- $366 million in Lost Wages Assistance,
- $4.5 billion in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and
- $4.35 billion in unemployment benefits as follows:
- $2.7 billion in state unemployment benefits;
- $621 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA);
- $1 billion Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC);
- $125 million in federal extended benefits; and
- $1.28 million in Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC).