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Task force begins to examine Kentucky unemployment system

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 5:52 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 6:10 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - For many across Kentucky, issues caused by the unemployment insurance system throughout the pandemic are still impacting their lives. A task force of lawmakers met in Frankfort Tuesday with the goal of reforming those processes.

Legislators spoke with business owners and the Kentucky Labor Cabinet to identify fixes they could pass during the next meeting of the General Assembly in 2022.

Unemployment insurance fraud and labor shortages were the primary issues business owners said they were currently experiencing. Data breaches and sophisticated cyberattacks that lead to Kentuckians’ data being sold on the dark web is a concern several industry groups addressing the task force raised. Many claimed the unemployment insurance system is outdated, which they wanted to see changed.

While fielding questions from lawmakers, the head of the Labor Cabinet shared his wishlist for change. He said the department would benefit from more workers and cross-training that could make the agency more nimble.

Larry Roberts, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet secretary, said the cabinet is having a hard time filling current positions.

When it comes to the federal pandemic unemployment benefit adding money to UI payments, two business owners from Louisville asked Gov. Andy Beshear to drop the extra benefits. The pair claimed they believed the additional money was still disincentivizing job seekers, making it tougher for them to hire.

“It confuses me, and a lot of my friends who are looking for employees, on why we’re still paying these benefits, the federal benefits, when everybody knows even the unemployment office is looking for people,” Eddie Kraft, owner of Nanz & Kraft Florist, said.

Beshear has suggested back-to-work incentives instead of an end to the federal pandemic assistance.

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet said it is still facing a backlog of claims.

The task force will meet again next month.

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