State Watch

Kentucky sees up to 8-hour wait times as hundreds line up to speak to a human about unemployment

Hundreds of unemployed residents in Kentucky lined up outside the Capitol Annex in Frankfurt on Wednesday to speak with someone in-person about their unemployment status, with lines lasting up to eight hours.

The first person arrived at 5:20 a.m. and hundreds more formed a massive line straddling a sparsely shaded fence wall for a chance to speak to someone about reviving stalled claims for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Kentucky State Police capped the line about 9 a.m. Wednesday, as residents prepared for a long day of waiting, bringing items including lawn chairs and books.

After a protest was formed Tuesday by residents who had yet to have their unemployment claims processed by the state, Kentucky established an extemporaneous unemployment center in the Capitol Education center adjacent to the governor’s mansion.

Some were lucky enough to make it to the line on Tuesday, where the line was reportedly shut down around 4:30 p.m.

Others were less fortunate, such as Angela Hazlett and her fiancé Jessie Krzyzewski, who drove four hours to Frankfort on Tuesday and were turned away due to the cutoff. They drove back home and returned again on Wednesday, only to arrive yet again after the line had been cut off.

“This is just the worst luck in the world,” Hazlett said, adding that the couple had barely slept since their attempts to make it to the line.

Some of those who weren’t seen Tuesday left their names and numbers for the unemployment office. However, the list reportedly filled up at least five pages, and many said they did not receive a callback on Wednesday.

Kentucky says it has processed 95 percent of the claims filed in March, 94 percent of claims filed in April, and 94 percent of the claims presented in May. Still, state officials confirmed Tuesday there are about 7,500 outstanding claims from March, 27,000 from April and 17,000 from May.

Workers for the state said that the unemployment office would likely hold another impromptu session Thursday, although a time and location has yet to be announced.

Lawmakers in Washington have been debating whether to include another round of expanded unemployment benefits in any future coronavirus relief legislation.

Tags COVID-19 Government Kentucky Unemployment United States

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