Examining the unemployment crisis in Wisconsin one year after it began

Posted at 6:15 AM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 23:32:53-04

If you or someone you know is struggling during this time waiting on unemployment benefits and needs assistance, call or visit Impact 2-1-1 to get the most up-to-date contact information for community assistance.

One year ago, Gov. Tony Evers enacted the Safer at Home Order to try and curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Hundreds of thousands of people soon found themselves out of work and needed to file for unemployment, many for the first time in their lives.

The onslaught of claims exposed long-standing cracks in Wisconsin’s unemployment system, and it buckled under the pressure.


The I-Team has followed the unemployment crisis since it began a year ago, through long waits on the phone, and navigating a complicated system. Some waited a few weeks, others waited as long as eight to 10 months.

And there are thousands of people who are still waiting. Some are in the appeals process after they felt they were unfairly denied benefits.

Others are waiting to receive federal pandemic unemployment benefits, and are stuck waiting while the state tries to get those programs implemented since the start of the year, with delays lasting as much as four months.

The I-Team has told dozens of their stories, and we continue to do so.

Examining the unemployment crisis one year after it began

Some told us their bank accounts have been completely drained, and the bills continue to pile up.

Residents in harder-hit communities tell a story of a much slower recovery compared to their counterparts in wealthier neighborhoods.

Others are desperate, with some becoming temporarily homeless, or are rationing necessities like medication to save anywhere they can.

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It’s important to remember that every face you see in this series tells a story.

If you have a story to tell, connect with the I-Team directly. You can send them an email at

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