(The Center Square) – The number of people out of work in Wisconsin is not the only thing that is growing in the state. 

Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development on Thursday reported an increase in the state’s jobless rate. For the month of April, DWD said the unemployment rate jumped to 14.1 percent. In March, it was 3.1 percent. 

“Today’s report shows the significant impact that the COVID-19 global pandemic has had on the Wisconsin economy,” DWD secretary Caleb Frostman said. 

In all, DWD’s report states, 439,400 jobs have been lost in the state.

The new numbers come on the heels of another report from DWD that shows a backlog of 140,000 unemployment claims. 

Those people are waiting for unemployment benefits, and some have been for weeks. 

Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, took to Twitter to say that is unacceptable.

“Gov. Evers knows about 1 in 3 claims not being paid and is still doing nothing about it!” Nygren tweeted. 

He also shared links to quotes from outraged Democrats from 2014 when they cried foul over delays in unemployment claims under former Gov. Scott Walker. 

“After a 2014 audit of the UI program, Sen. Peter Barca said, ‘I hope we can all agree that at the very least, the citizens of our state deserve to have their phone calls answered by the state agencies that serve them.’ I agree,” Nygren said. “Will he call on Gov. Evers to extend call center hours?”

Frostman said on Wednesday that DWD is looking to hire more workers to manage the backlog. 

“We have about 100 or 125 adjudicators currently working,” Frostman said. “We’re hoping to hire a number more, probably about 100 hires.”

Frostman said DWD is also bringing on an outside firm that will be able to put about 200 more people to work on the backlog. 

Still, there is no word when DWD expects the backlog to end, and there is no word when people waiting for unemployment benefits will see a check. 

Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.

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