State unemployment offices, including the Owensboro office at the Career Center on Fairview Drive, will begin taking in-person appointments to handle unemployment insurance claims on April 15.

People needing help with an unemployment claim can sign up for an appointment beginning at noon on Wednesday, April 7.

Appoints can be made at www.kcc.ky.gov.

On Tuesday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that in-person appointments would resume on April 15 at Career Centers across the state.

“It’s good news for people who have been struggling to collect their unemployment,” Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly said Tuesday afternoon. “At its best, trying to draw unemployment is tough. When you’re trying to do it electronically with no person there to help, is worse.”

The state stopped providing in-person appointments for unemployment insurance claims in 2017 under the administration of then-Gov. Matt Bevin, Beshear’s office said in a press release. Bevin also reduced the number of unemployment offices across the state.

The COVID-19 pandemic threw a high number of people out of work, which resulted in a flood of unemployment claims. Lack of staff and technology issues led to a backlog of claims and the state held pop-up unemployment clinics to try to resolve some of those.

A spokeswoman for the state Labor Cabinet could not provide the number of outstanding unemployment claims Tuesday afternoon. In late March, state Ag Commissioner Ryan Quarles told the Owensboro Rotary Club more than 80,000 Kentucky residents who lost jobs during the pandemic were still waiting for their first unemployment check.

On Wednesday, appointments can be scheduled from April 15 to April 30. Appointments will be held Monday through Friday.

On April 19, appointments will be scheduled for May 3, and additional in-person appointments will be available each business day after that, according to a press release from Beshear’s office.

City Mayor Tom Watson and Mattingly wrote a joint In My View letter that was published in the Messenger-Inquirer in February, where they called for in-person unemployment appointments at state Career Centers. Watson said he hopes the state can move quickly on claims.

“I’m very excited for all of the people in need,” Watson said Tuesday. “It’s really important to our people, and hopefully it will come to a quick resolution.

“We were curious what the plan was,” Watson said. City and county officials, “had so many calls” from people seeking help, he said.

“We didn’t know what to tell anyone,” he said.

Mattingly said, “We have some folks that are still trying to collect unemployment from last March, April and May.”

Later, Mattingly said, “So many times, people have multiple issues” with their unemployment claims. “When you have multiple issues, it takes someone familiar with the system” to resolve the issue.

The press release from Beshear’s office said some claims may require more than one appointment to resolve.

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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