Trying to apply for jobless benefits? Good luck with that

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Some Central Texas residents left jobless by restaurant, bar and business closings are having a hard time applying for unemployment benefits.

Joseph Hamilton, who recently lost his job as a waiter, is among the area residents having a hard time applying for unemployment benefits. (Photo by Darby Brown)

More than 800,000 people in Texas tried to contact the Texas Workforce Commission last week, and many of them heard this recorded message when they called: "Due to the overwhelming call volume as the result of the ongoing Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, we are unable to handle your call at this time."

Joseph Hamilton, who recently lost his job as a waiter, has heard that recording every time he's tried to call the TWC to file for unemployment.

"It's getting to the point where I just don't know. I've called over 60 times today, I'm probably going to call even more," Hamilton said Wednesday.
He's not alone.

"It's a continuous cycle you call back later it tells you that again, and you don't even know when to wait, or you know I don't know it leaves us with our hands up," said Bambi Greer, who recently lost her job as a waitress.

The amount of callers is exactly the problem.

Gov. Greg Abbott says officials are working to be able to take more calls and handle more web traffic.

"Because of the unprecedented number of people who are seeking unemployment benefits, which are about 800,000 people, we have hired more than 100 additional employees to help process these claims," explained Governor Abbott.

Ed Serna, the director of the Texas Workforce Commission, took to Facebook live to address the issue.

"Like all other state agencies, our goal is to serve the citizens the state of Texas as best we can," said Serna.

Serna asked for patience and assured people they would provide all of the benefits they have available.

"The unique situation that we're presented with regard to COVID-19 is different than anything anybody in the state has dealt with," said Serna.