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'This Entire Process Has Been Unacceptable From The Start': State Rep. Says Legislature Is Working To Get More Help Managing Unemployment Claims

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The unemployment headaches entered a fourth week Monday for people across the state.

More than 1 million people have filed for unemployment and many are still waiting for PINs and activated claims, despite efforts to beef up tech and processing support at the state's Unemployment Compensation Bureau.

"It should take minutes to do it," said Grant Dagnal, who's unable to process unemployment claim.

Frustration doesn't even begin to explain it for Dagnal. He works construction in the union and said he's no stranger to the unemployment process, but the process is no longer working for him.


"I know I'm not the only one, I get it," said Dagnal. "I know there's a million people out of work and it stinks, but I'm going on four weeks, almost five weeks without any kind of answer."

He said he reopened his existing claim, already has his PIN number, but the site continues to say "inactive" on his end. After 400-plus calls and emails, he still doesn't have an answer. He's forced to wait and pray that his wife can keep working from home.

New Tuesday, the Pa. Department of Labor and Industry tweeted, saying its teams are "working to get people the answers the need," even saying "the best days to call are Thursdays and Fridays."

State Rep. Aaron Bernstine tells KDKA's Meghan Schiller there's no excuse for how this unemployment issue is being handled.

"This entire process has been unacceptable from the start," said Rep. Bernstine.

Bernstine represents the 10th district and said the state legislature is working to help Governor Tom Wolf beef up resources inside the bureau to process claims. The department already worked to bring back and train 70 retired employees and also hired 100 new staff members.

"We need to make sure that those people are working around the clock in order to make sure that people in Pennsylvania have money to put food on the table for their families," said Rep. Bernstine.

On the other side of the aisle, State Representative Dan Miller represents the 42nd district and he said he's also working around the clock, along with his staff, answering questions and calls mostly centered around unemployment issues.

"For a while the schools were the number one issue and then probably the last 10 days or so it really has picked up into the unemployment area," said Rep. Miller.

With people out of work, that means more time for people to obsessively refresh their bank accounts - looking for that federal stimulus check set to arrive any day now.

"I do check my bank account and I haven't gotten it yet, but it will be going right to these two," said Zack Hotchkiss, a father waiting for stimulus check.

His youngest daughter Zoe wants a dog, but his older daughter Cameron said she's more forward thinking in case "something pops up."

"I think I'd probably save it because I like to save."

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