Kansas labor department’s website down, another frustration for people filing unemployment

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Labor website was down again Friday as the agency continues to struggle with technical issues.

Some people already frustrated with the unemployment system wonder if the problems will ever be corrected.

Trinity Meyers said he gets the same message every time he calls the Kansas Department of Labor: “All call center representative are engaged with a claimant at this time and the queue is full.”

He’s one of many who’s furious over how difficult it is to get ahold of the agency, which handles unemployment benefits.

“I can’t get online with them. You can’t call them. I’ve wrote snail mail, I’ve emailed, I’ve done everything I can besides going to Topeka, Kansas,” Meyers said. “I just want to take care of my kids. I just want to be able to take care of my family and pay my bills and not stress out.”

KDOL Deputy Secretary Peter Brady knows about the frustration and acknowledges the state’s unemployment issues are, in part, due to an old computer system that needs updating.

Brady was not prepared to release the details of an announcement set for Monday but said this:

“What I can say is outside of that specific request for proposal, something that we’ve identified through this pandemic is that we need to modernize the system. We need to be in a place where whenever the next economic downturn occurs, we are ready and prepared to face that,” Brady said.

Kansas is one of 30 states that has not modernized its computer system, but Missouri has. Modernized states haven’t had as many problems after being hit with the increase in unemployment claims due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far during the pandemic, Kansas has processed over 4 million weekly claims and paid put almost $3 billion in benefits, the agency said.

“If you were to look at the last eight years, that’s about how much we’ve done in all those years combined,” Brady said. “So it’s pretty safe to say that in the course of the year of his pandemic, we’ve seen this agencies had to do about eight years worth of work.”

On Thursday night, KDOL had an issue with its mainframe and took down its website while it does necessary maintenance. As of Friday, it was unclear now whether or not the issue will delay payments or claims.

KDOL posted on Facebook Friday that a “new and improved” website is coming soon.

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