PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Employment Department has launched a new website that aims to improve customer service for those applying for unemployment benefits.
The informational website has details on various topics, such as what new programs were created by the CARES Act, who qualifies for unemployment benefits and how to apply for those benefits. It also explains what exactly is different during the pandemic.
The department is working on adding more information and features, including a contact form for those who have been waiting the longest to receive their benefits or have their claims resolved. There will be myriad resources and a bolstered frequently asked questions page.
This website launch comes as many Oregonians continue to see lengthy wait times for claim resolutions—sometimes waiting weeks, even months.
There has also been widely shared criticism of the lack of communication from the OED. In many cases, people who try calling the department end up on hold for several hours.
“We’ve heard the many Oregonians who’ve said we need to do a better job communicating about their benefits and the unemployment claims process,” said David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department. “Our goal with this new website is to provide clear information so people can file their claims, avoid unnecessary delays and get their questions answered without having to call us.”
The new website was reportedly one of the first items on the acting director’s agenda. Gerstenfield wanted to create a cleaner and more user-friendly space for information than the prior website had.
“I’ve made doing a better job of communicating with Oregonians a top priority,” said Gerstenfeld. “We believe this website is a much-needed step in the right direction, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to make this a better experience for you.”
He said in February, they has 47,000 incoming calls. In April, the department had more than 20 million.
“We’re trying to make new ways for people to contact us and better ways for us to prioritize,” said Gerstenfeld.