FOR RELEASE August 4, 1995
Contact David Blaska 608/267-4400
Wisconsin is first to automate initial Unemployment Compensation (UC) claims
U.C. BY TELEPHONE
Starts Monday, August
Phone lines are open 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
In the Milwaukee local call area dial: 438-7700
Elsewhere in metro area: 1-800/UC CLAIM ( 1 800/822-5246 )
Starting Monday, people in the greater Milwaukee metro area can make their
first claims for unemployment compensation by just picking up the
telephone. No longer does losing one's job require a trip to the
unemployment office and standing in line.
Wisconsin is the first state in the nation to take initial unemployment
compensation claims by telephone using computerized interactive voice
This new user-friendly service starts Monday, August 7, for claimants in
Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington Counties.
Approximately 2,500 different initial claims are filed in this six-county
area every week.
The system is available from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Milwaukee users can dial this local number:
438-7700. Users elsewhere can call, toll-free: 1 800/UC CLAIM
(1 800/822-5246 ).
The system is scheduled to go statewide by the end of the year. U.C.
claimants in other parts of the state should continue filing at their
local unemployment compensation offices until notified.
"Unemployment compensation by telephone is the most significant and
positive change in the program since its inception in 1932," said Carol
Skornicka, Secretary of Industry, Labor and Human Relations. "Because
Wisconsin invented unemployment compensation in the U.S. in 1932 _ three
years before the federal government _ we feel entitled to say that
`Wisconsin Unemployment Compensation is Leading the Nation _ Again!' "
UC by telephone saves money
The impetus for unemployment insurance by telephone began several years
ago when Gov. Tommy Thompson directed state agencies to provide better
service to its customers and to save taxpayers money. "Unemployment claims
by telephone means no more driving, no more standing in line, no more
inconvenience," Skornicka added.
Claimants will save an average of $20.11 in automotive and fuel expenses
for each initial claim filed _ a total of $11 million statewide, said
Bruce Hagen, Wisconsin U.C. administrator. The system is expected to save
another $1 million a year in administrative costs.
The telephone claims system uses a combination of advanced computer
technology and live, on-line claims specialists. The system is completely
paperless. Claims go directly into the central computer in Madison without
expensive and time-consuming "re-keyboarding." The Department of Industry,
Labor and Human Relations developed the technology to take initial UC
claims by telephone in-house.
UC by telephone is easy to use
All that's needed is a telephone. Using a touch-tone phone, users will be
greeted by an interactive computer voice response system that prompts the
caller to respond to basic questions, using the telephone key pad to enter
such information as social security number, driver's license number, date
of birth, and simple yes-no responses. Users also will be asked to create
a four-digit personal identification number.
Then the system transfers the caller to a live U.C. claims specialist at
one of two "call centers," located in Madison and Milwaukee, for
completion of more complex claimant and benefit rights information. The
entire process, from start to finish, takes only 11 minutes, on average.
The claims specialists will provide advice for the unique questions that
arise in individual cases and will provide the continued "personal touch"
that customers have come to expect, according to Hagen. The questions
themselves are the same as those asked in a U.C. office. Callers with
rotary phones will be served by the specialists at the call centers.
Claimants filing for continued, weekly benefits already have been switched
over to a completely automated system; these customers will continue to
use the telephone number they have been given.
Security will be assured through matches with Department of Transportation
records, personal identification numbers, wage matches with Social
Security numbers, and additional random audits.
The $4.3 million start-up costs were offset by a $1.7 million federal
grant received a year ago. The technology has made government savings
possible by consolidating all 54 local U.C. offices in the state into two
call centers, one at 6083 N. Teutonia, Milwaukee, in the Silver Mill
shopping center, the other in Madison. (Other services will continue to
be available at area Job Centers.)
The only other state to take initial unemployment compensation claims by
telephone is Colorado. Unlike Wisconsin, however, that state's system is
not automated; it relies entirely on live operators and paper forms.
UC by telephone means satisfied customers
Before opening the call lines to the public, test runs were conducted in a
number of markets this summer, then followed up with a user survey.
Eighty-four percent of those users told us they liked the new system and
only 1 percent said they did not.
Those results were not surprising. For the last year, people from all over
the state have been filing their weekly claims by telephone. (Weekly
claims are made after the applicant has established eligibility through an
initial claim. A weekly claim tells us, "I'm still looking for work. Do I
qualify for continued benefits?")
In a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, over 97 percent of
our customers said that they were very satisfied or satisfied with the