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Mt. Pleasant man says he’s called SC Unemployment 1,000 times with no luck

A Mount Pleasant man said he filed for unemployment with the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce on March 20 and after more than 1,000 phone calls still hasn’t heard back. (Source: Live 5)

By Rob Way | April 22, 2020 at 3:07 PM EDT - Updated April 22 at 3:07 PM

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - A Mount Pleasant man said he filed for unemployment with the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce on March 20, and after more than a thousand phone calls, he still hasn’t heard back.

“I have over a thousand calls to them," Jason Guthrie said. "South Carolina Works gave me an email. I’ve emailed 50 times. I’ve got maybe three responses that someone will contact me, and I’m still waiting for that contact.”

Before the pandemic, Guthrie said he was a full-time rideshare driver, but once concerns over the spread of the virus started to grow, business decreased dramatically.

“This is a tourist town. Our demand for drives kind of slagged at first, and I noticed my income was coming down," he said. "From there, I just filed, because I figured it was the right thing to do. That was March 20, and I have nothing.”

South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce staff answered 62,000 calls over a five-day span last week, spokesperson Heather Biance said. In response, the department expects to hire ten times the amount of customer service representatives, going from 46 pre-pandemic to 500 by next week.

“We went from historically low unemployment in South Carolina to historically high unemployment,” Biance said. “We understand not everyone is getting through, but the phone line is working. If they receive a voice recording asking to call back, that simply means too many people are in the queue ahead of them. Please try again."

Guthrie said he’s been calling every day for a month now with no luck.

“I called so much there is no call in recent history that is other than South Carolina unemployment office,” he said. "They told me to call at 8 a.m., and I will get somebody or at least be put in a queue. Well, I guess the rest of the million people are doing the same thing. They’re up at 8. Somebody is getting lucky. I do hope.”

He said he’s taken a temporary job at a grocery store, but he’s not making enough to pay his bills.

“Hire some people. I’m available. Train me," he said. "Reach out. I get there’s a lot of us who need help, but somehow if it’s every three days or every week, just reach out with some type of, ‘Hey. We’re working on your case.’ Something. But, we get nothing.”

After reaching out to the department about Guthrie’s situation, a spokesperson said they were “emailing him now.”

The department has also launched an online chat system to help alleviate the calls of more commonly-asked questions. That service can be foundhere.

“We are still getting a significant call volume for questions that could be answered through one of these resources,” Biance said. “We are trying to put as much information at their fingertips, so the phone line can be for the claimants with real claims’ related issues that require a claims specialist’s attention.”

Copyright 2020 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Photo: Live 5 News

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