WOODBURY, Tenn. - The number of unemployed Tennesseans is rising, making receiving unemployment benefits a tougher task. Tennessee is just one of the many states falling behind the mandated time to award those benefits.
Kristine Bolden was laid off after cuts at the Tennessee Center for Child Welfare in Murfreesboro and now spends her days online looking for job and waiting on unemployment.
"When we did take our letters into the career center they told us then that it may be as much as eight weeks before we received our first check," said Bolden. When she asked why, she was told, "Because of the backlog."
For the past few days Bolden has gone from the computer to the phone trying to find out the status of her application, but has only gotten messages and no help.
An estimated 6,000 people have apply for unemployment here in Tennessee each week. On the backlog list there sits Kristine and 20,000 others. Now the state is trying to lower that number by hiring 50 new staff members.
"We're doing what we can with what we have, but the fact is just Tennessee like other states is having trouble with service with unemployment so high as it is right now," said Jeff Hentschel with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
He says their office is so swapped with applicants seeking unemployment that they're not meeting federal marks for getting the benefits out.
"We know the federal government requires or at least sets a standard we do that in 21 days. We're only doing that 80% percent of the time, but we are only doing that 87% of the time," said Hentschel.
Hentschel says right now all applicants can do is follow the directions by checking in each week and wait as they try to cut down on the backlog problem.
Some folks like Kristine say they are not only waiting, but hoping for relief soon.
"I would like to see something in place that would help all of us that are in this situation quicker," said Bolden.
The 50 new staff members will help, but most people won't see the effects until after training for the new employees is completed in November.