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Idaho Department of Labor catches up on backlog with new call center: 'There is a lot of pent up demand'

The call center has only been taking unemployment calls for two days now and the Department of Labor director told KTVB that they need more time to catch up.

BOISE, Idaho — Every Tuesday for more than two months now, Idaho Governor Brad Little spends an hour taking questions about coronavirus and its impact. He does this at noon during the AARP’s telephone town hall. This Tuesday, he and Dept. of Labor Director, Jani Revier, took questions regarding the state’s unemployment situation.

At the end of May, more than 140,000 Idahoans had filed unemployment claims, which quickly created a massive backlog for the Department of Labor to process. But some relief is on the way for the overwhelmed department.

On Monday, a call center started taking calls for the labor department in order to help with the backlog. Thirty workers with Boise-based Maximus started taking phone calls about unemployment.

RELATED: Call center contracting with Department of Labor to help with unemployment calls

The department contracted with them in order to help with the backlog of calls after people called the labor office and regularly either got a busy tone or were placed on hold for long periods of time.

“I'm not making excuses, I don't like it, I'm unhappy about it,” Little said in regard to some Idahoans waiting several weeks for their benefits. “They were overrun, and they still are."

some viewers reached out to KTVB saying they were still having problems, some of whom said they would call the number and be told no one was available to talk to them.

“I would note there is a lot of pent up demand in reaching our office right now and there are wait times on that call for the call center,” Revier said.

Because the Dept. of Labor was so far behind, they need more time to catch up with the phone calls. Revier explained that is why people aren’t getting through when they call.

“We're hopeful to hear soon we will get through some of the pent-up demands and answer some of the calls,” she said. “The agents answering the calls will become quicker at responding to questions so we can be in a position where we're responding to the needs of Idahoans in a quicker process.”

One big change about the new call center is the number Idahoans need to call. In order to talk to someone about unemployment, the number that needs to be called is (833) 410-1009. The call center takes calls Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m.

"We’ve only had a call center for a day, today is our second day," she said. "We need to work through some of that backlog and pent up demand for assistance and get a better handle on what the actual numbers are"

Revier said its possible people may get a message telling them to call back later, but this is so people aren't on hold all day long.

RELATED: What does 'pending issue stopping payment' mean? Idaho Department of Labor answers common unemployment questions

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