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Wisconsin unemployment claims surge to 45,652 this week; state looks to eliminate wait for benefits

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development says they’re trying to keep up.

After 16,252 claims were filed Thursday, the weekly total shot up to 45,652.

They say the best way to go about the process is online.

“We are doing the best that we can to help everybody as quickly and expeditiously as possible," DWD Unemployment Insurance Division Policy Analyst Emily Savard said. "But the best thing somebody could do in order to help us is go online.”

If you don’t have internet or you need assistance, you can call, but expect a long wait. Employ Milwaukee Workforce Division's Timothy McMurtry says the call volume is overwhelming.

“The main thing would be to utilize digital platforms as much as possible," McMurtry said.

McMurtry said if you’re looking for work, delivery services like Uber Eats are hiring, and Amazon warehouse jobs are opening up.

But the biggest need is in grocery stores.

"Our front end and cashiering, food service, stocking groceries, all of those positions are currently open,” Outpost Natural Foods Communications Director Margaret Mittelstadt said.

Roundy’s announced Friday they are looking to hire 2,500 people for jobs at Pick N' Save and Metro Market stores in Wisconsin.

The pandemic is driving a dramatic increase in demand.

“Right now because of the high demand, product comes in, we need to find people to get it out as quickly as we possibly can," Mittelstadt said.

The Department of Workforce Development said they are currently working with Gov. Tony Evers to reduce that one week wait time to receive benefits.

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