15 citizen-soldiers step in to help the Oregon Employment Department communicate about claim status.
SALEM – In addition to 700 Employment Department staff and 154 volunteers from state government, now the Oregon National Guard is stepping in to assist in clearing the backlog and contacting Oregonians who are waiting to hear back about the status of their unemployment claims.
So far, the Oregon Employment Department has processed 97% of initial unemployment claims, paying out $1.5 billion to Oregonians. But as anyone knows who has been waiting for weeks on their claims to go through or has spent hours on hold, the department needs to get to 100% as quickly as possible.
Starting this week, 15 Oregon National Guard citizen-soldiers and Airmen began a two-week assignment working in the Employment Department to increase proactive contact and communication to let Oregonians know where their claims are in the system and to solve problems.
The Oregon National Guard members have been trained to provide support and are making outbound calls, focusing on people waiting for PUA benefits (PUA stands for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which is for the self-employed, freelancers, independent contractors, and gig workers).
The team’s initial mission is to call Oregonians who were denied benefits under the original Unemployment Insurance (UI) rules and now qualify under the PUA rules. Guard members will help them navigate the online application process, since that can sometimes be confusing.
In this challenging time, the Oregon Guard is stepping up to help their fellow Oregonians receive the full benefits they deserve, as quickly as possible.