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Evers effectively fires DWD secretary over unemployment claim backlog

Caleb Frostman
Posted at 3:41 PM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 23:34:28-04

MADISON — Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman has resigned over persistent issues processing unemployment claims amid the pandemic.

Gov. Tony Evers said Friday that he asked for, and received, the resignation from 35-year-old Frostman, effective immediately.

Evers cites significant delays in processing unemployment claims amid the pandemic. DWD is in charge of that process.

“It is clear that our unemployment system has faced historic levels of claims these past few months, hindered in part by antiquated technology we inherited, and processes designed by Republicans to make it harder for folks to get these benefits," said Gov. Evers in a news release.

The governor adds that Wisconsin is facing an "unprecedented" number of unemployment claims during the pandemic, "far exceeding" the number of claims during the Great Recession.

Evers effectively fires DWD secretary over unemployment claim backlog

Between March 15 and Sept. 12, DWD reports 6,546,554 claims have been filed. Just under 11 percent - or 713,508 - of those claims are still being processed.

The remaining 5,833,046, or about 89 percent, of those claims have been either paid or denied, according to the DWD.

Evers argues he has worked to provide DWD the resources to deal with the surge, including additional staffing. In additional 130 DWD employees have been reassigned to the Unemployment Insurance Division. The DWD now has more than 1,500 employees working on UI cases, a 250 percent spike from 600 workers before, according to the governor's office.

It appears, though, that assistance failed to materialize into an improvement in processing claims under Frostman's DWD.

Amy Pechacek
Amy Pechacek

Department of Corrections Deputy Secretary Amy Pechacek will lead the transition until the new secretary is appointed.

Pechacek previously served in Milwaukee County government, and graduated from UW-Madison and Northwestern University.

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