CHEYENNE – The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented incidences of job losses by Wyoming workers. These losses have resulted in record numbers of claims to the Unemployment Insurance (UI) division of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS).

To better meet the needs of Wyoming workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UI call center has expanded its operational hours. The call center will now open at 7 a.m. and close at 6 p.m., and those callers who are in the on-hold queue by 6 p.m. will be kept on the line until their calls are answered.

“We are doing everything we can to help everyone who has been affected by this pandemic,” said Holly McKamey Simoni, Workforce Programs Administrator for DWS. “We’ve added as many telephone lines and representatives to answer those lines as we can add, and we’ve contracted with an outside call center to help answer any questions that don’t require staff access to claimants’ UI accounts. We still have longer hold times that we would like to see, though. Opening our regular call center an hour earlier and keeping it open later will reduce those hold times and allow more claimants to get their questions answered.”

Simoni reiterated that answers to many questions can be found on the DWS Frequently Asked Questions pages, and the outside call center can answer many claimants’ questions at 888-674-7699. More technical questions or those that require staff access to a claimant’s UI account still need to be answered by calling the regular call center at 307-473-3789, but the expanded hours should reduce the time claimants spend on hold.

Since June 22, the call center has been fielding more than 500 calls per day, and often more than 600 calls per day. The outside call center has handled more than 18,000 calls since it opened on May 18.

“Each of those calls — each of those 500, 600 or even 700 calls we get each day — are people who need help, and we are doing everything we can to help them all quickly and efficiently,” Simoni said. “We know it’s hard to get through on the phone line, but the expanded hours will help callers get through more quickly.”