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Wyoming unemployment call center sometimes strained as claim levels remain high

CHEYENNE (WNE) – Despite Wyoming’s unemployment rate ticking down slightly in recent months, ongoing steep demand for assistance has kept the phone lines busy – and sometimes unreachable – at the state’s Department of Workforce Services.

“We’re getting a lot of calls,” DWS Communications Manager Ty Stockton said Friday. “Quite a few of those are people wanting to make a claim over the phone, and those do take some time. … But quite a few are people who have an issue or a question about something that came up, or they got denied and want to figure out what they did wrong.”

Since the pandemic arrived in mid-March, the department has been the first line of state response for Wyomingites left without work, processing thousands of claims in the initial weeks of the pandemic.

Wyoming’s unemployment rate sat at 7.6% in June, more than double its rate from the same time last year and down from a mid-pandemic high of 9.2% in April.

In May, DWS announced a partnership with TTEC, a global customer service company, to expand its capacity to handle the influx of callers. When the automated responders are unable to help, callers are deferred to the state’s unemployment experts.

Though the number of initial claims being made has dipped in recent weeks, more than 15,000 continued claims have been filed each week since mid-April. By comparison, about 2,000 continued claims were being filed with DWS at the same time last year.