LANSING — State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) said the results from the Michigan Auditor General Doug Ringler’s audit of the state Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) are appalling and that the agency must be held accountable for its negligence.
“That 90 percent of calls from unemployed Michiganders went unanswered is unconscionable,” said Dianda. “No Michigan citizen who is unemployed and simply trying to apply for the unemployment benefits they qualify for should have their phone call go unanswered. We require people to call into the agency in order to receive their benefits. The UIA needs to make sure they always have enough staff to answer these calls.”
The audit looked at a period of time in 2014 and discovered that about 90 percent of calls to the UIA unemployment line went unanswered, a source of significant frustration for claimants. A UIA spokesperson responded that the audit looked at call attempts, and that if they had looked at total unique calls then those not answered dropped to 50 percent. Of the calls that were answered, 28 percent were abandoned while people were on hold waiting to talk to someone. Dianda argues that any percentage of unanswered or abandoned calls isn’t acceptable.
“Whether it’s 50 percent or 90 percent, it’s still too much,” said Dianda. “Not everyone has a computer and Internet access, particularly in my district where there are entire regions that have no Internet access. The bottom line is that if you are required by UIA to call in, then someone needs to answer the phone.”