‘There’s no way to get a hold of them’: Workers frustrated with coronavirus unemployment process

Updated: Mar. 26, 2020 at 8:09 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - More than 5,200 new unemployment claims were filed last week in Horry County.

No other county in the state got within 1,000 of that amount.

But recently laid-off workers still feel as if they’re alone when it comes to the unemployment process.

“I think, it would be better if we we’re not in the dark. Everyone’s in limbo right now. I feel like our governor is the head of the state, if he says something, he should follow up on something," said Tracey Miller.

Miller said she’s worked as a server at a couple of restaurants around Myrtle Beach for seven years.

“You know, I’m one of the true locals from here and they love it they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh can you tell me how to get to so and so from here?’” Miller said, as she remembered her restaurant jobs fondly.

But last week the restaurant she worked at let her go. So for the first time in her life, she filed for unemployment.

She said the website to file claims was so overwhelmed, she had to wait to file at three in the morning last week so it would actually go through.

Still, she has questions about the process. Especially since Gov. Henry McMaster said for six weeks, anyone who was let go because of coronavirus is eligible for unemployment without looking for another job.

“When are we gonna get paid? Are we gonna get paid that holding week that they held on us? Nobody’s updated any of our unemployment accounts to let us know if our employers have replied back. I mean we’re kind of in limbo right now,” she said.

For now, she said she has concerns.

“I think I will be okay if I get unemployment. If it doesn’t come through soon I don’t know what I’m gonna do," Miller said.

And it’s not just servers feeling the impacts. Gig workers are too.

Rideshare driver Rich Kalifoot also filed for unemployment last week as well. He shared complaints similar to Miller.

“You can’t call them is the problem. There’s no way to get a hold of them,” he said.

Kalifoot said around March 16, business came to a standstill.

“I’m trying to drive but you sit there for three-four hours, to get a $5 ride to the airport, is that worth it?” he asked.

Kalifoot said a lot of his concerns come with not having pay stubs from the companies.

“There’s no way to send unemployment a pay stub and they keep asking for a pay stub," Kalifoot said.

Meanwhile, new businesses face unique concerns.

Tina Littleton just opened the Paradise Pancake and Omelette House off of King’s Highway.

“We had just opened up in December and had literally just brought on a full staff. It was a business that had been run down pretty much. We saw it as an opportunity to bring it back up and thriving. Two weeks before we had to shut down, everything was just starting, we were finally starting to see money coming in, instead of just sitting there at the end of the week with $40 in your bank account," Littleton said.

She said they couldn’t stay afloat with McMaster’s orders to suspend dine-in. She said their restaurant was just focused on breakfast and a buffet.

She said as a new business, filing for her employees was difficult.

“I’m a new business so I’ve never filed taxes yet so they weren’t finding anything on me because I don’t have anything in their database," she said. “It gives you phone numbers to call but no one’s answering."

Still, she’s trying to remain hopeful.

“I’ve done everything on my part, they’re trying to do everything on their part, and all we can do is wait and hope for the best and try to stay positive. You know, every day is a struggle to do that at this point," Little said.

Anyone with questions about how to file for unemployment can visit their website here.

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