Wyden demands Oregon Employment Department director resign

Coronavirus

'Litany of incompetence and unresponsiveness has hit the breaking point'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden has called for the resignation of Oregon Employment Director Kay Erickson over the agency’s troubles during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Oregonians thrown out of work through no fault of their own deserve a state Employment Department capable of responding quickly and competently to their urgent needs during this economic and public health crisis,” Wyden said in a statement released Saturday. “Over the past weeks and months, it has become painfully clear that the Oregon Employment Department leadership has totally failed to meet these Oregonians’ needs or to support its own dedicated employees working to process claims.”

People laid off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have been struggling to receive benefits from OED. One man said he has now gone two months without a paycheck, and as of May 18, OED said it had processed hundreds of thousands of claims, but there are still just under 50,000 claims that had yet to be processed.

OED: ‘Significant impact in 2 weeks’ on claims

“While all states have faced challenges in implementing expanded benefits, Oregon’s problems have persisted far too long with far too much pain inflicted on unemployed Oregonians,” said Wyden. “The Oregon Employment Department’s mounting list of problems hit a new low this week with revelations that an estimated 200,000 Oregonians are still waiting for benefits and that leadership cannot say with confidence how much is owed to Oregonians aching for funds to buy groceries, pay the rent and more.”

Wyden concluded his plea for Erikson’s resignation by saying the agency’s “litany of incompetence and unresponsiveness has hit the breaking point,” and that the situation must get fixed immediately.

OED: CLAIMS BY THE NUMBERS SINCE MARCH 15:

  • 445,000 claims filed for regular benefits
  • 245,000 people receiving payments (about 55%)
  • 73,000 claims filed were not eligible for benefits
  • 42,000 claims are eligible, but didn’t continue with process
  • 19,000 claims were filed in the last three weeks
  • 11,000 people will get benefits after waiting week

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