FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) -- It was intended to be a protest at the Capitol by people who have not received their unemployment, but ended up being a problem-solving session, with some people whose filings were held up being corrected on the spot.
Gov. Andy Beshear said on Monday that since the coronavirus pandemic began, 167,420 people filed for unemployment in March, and 7,566 are still unresolved. April saw 429,056 filings with 27,507 contested. May had 295,879 people seeking unemployment benefits, 17,619 of whom are still waiting for their first check. The three-month total is 892,355 filers and 52,684 who haven’t received benefits.
Katie King of Nicholasville was among those who were seeking help. She lost two jobs in the food service industry on March 17 and has not seen a penny. Although she returned to work two weeks ago in another work field, she was seeking back benefits for ten weeks of unemployment.
“One job closed down, the other never put me on the schedule, so my claim has been under investigation since day one,” she said. “My employer said they put me on the schedule, and I have proof that I was no longer on the schedule.”
She said she did not harbor ill feelings for unemployment workers. “I understand that they are overwhelmed and that there’s not enough people, but I’m broke. I had to borrow money to pay my bills, now I’m having to pay that money back.”
Tamaria McKinley of Lexington said she was there to support her fellow unemployed. “My account has hopefully been fixed as of Monday, but I feel there are a lot of people hurting and a lot of people who are losing everything. They lose their cars, so they can’t get to work. Then, they lose their home.”
One person who says she was helped was Kelsi Stewart of Bardstown. “My husband I were laid off at the same time for three months. We weren’t ready for that. I’m a server and a full-time student. I’m 26-years old and I’m having a baby in six weeks. We’ve been living off my maternity leave money and it’s starting to get stressful.”
She continued, “I think it’s all processed and going through.”
Paige Johnston of Lexington was another person who came to protest but ended up having her situation resolved. She said her unemployment claim from April 21 has been under investigation. “I got my first check and I got the CARES Act money, but when I went to file my second bi-weekly claim, I answered one of the questions wrong.”
Johnston, who was furloughed from a department store that had been forced to close, said she had no idea people would be here to help her situation and meeting with them was very productive. “All of my back benefits starting April 11 will be released today. I should get it Thursday or Friday and my CARES Act money probably Monday or Tuesday of next week. It’s been very frustrating and I’m just glad it’s taken care of.”
State Rep. Joe Graviess, D-Versailles, also stopped by the Capitol Education Center, which is where the people were receiving help.
“I’m here today to show support to the governor and his team that is here to try and help folks with their unemployment insurance issues,” he said. “There are adjudicators sitting in there who are the ones that can actually fix the problem. They are fixing the problems as people are sitting in front of them. They are solving the problems on their laptops like they were sitting in their office. This is great.”