Texas unemployment call center overloaded with callers after COVID-19 shutdowns

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX)- More than 800,000 people have filed for unemployment in Texas this month after COVID-19 concerns left many out of a job.

J.C. Richey, of Hearne, said he was one of them. Richey worked at a local school district as a bus driver. Everything was great until spring break.

"We were just waiting to go back to work and then the whole thing shut down because of the virus,” said Richey.

Richey said he wasn’t sure how long the shutdown would last, so he went online to file for unemployment. The website directed him to call a phone number because he specifically was filing after being laid off from COVID-19 closures.

Richey said he has called multiple times a day for a week. Every time he calls, it is an automated message saying that the volume of calls is too high and that he needs to call back.

The Texas Workforce Commission said that they typically get 13,000 calls a day. On Sunday, they received more than 100,000 calls.

Governor Abbott said Wednesday that they are aware of the problem, and are working towards multiple solutions to make sure Texans make it through this time.

"Because of the unprecedented number of people calling, we've had about 800 thousand, we have hired more than 100 additional employees to help process these claims,” said Abbott.

KBTX spoke with Governor Abbott Wednesday, for the full interview, click here.

Richey says he just hopes that this all works out soon so he can still pay his bills.

"The one thing that keeps on going is taxes and rent. I mean I’ve got rent coming up just like the next person does,” said Richey.

The Texas Workforce Commission says they are also extending their hours and adding Saturday 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.