More than 511,000 people in Wisconsin file for unemployment

MADISON -- Nearly 512,000 people in Wisconsin have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus outbreak began in March, based on the latest figures from the state Department of Workforce Development tracking filings made through Monday.

The state reported that as of Monday it had paid more than $384 million in claims. During last week alone, the state received more than 4.7 million calls about unemployment benefits.

"We continue to navigate uncharted waters,” DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman said in a statement. “DWD is adding hundreds of new staff, multiple outside vendors, and working overtime to process and analyze the claims to help as many Wisconsinites as fast as possible.”

Thirty-six members of the Republican state Assembly sent Frostman a letter on Monday calling for the department to look at all possible options to process unemployment claims more quickly. The lawmakers said the majority of inquiries they were hearing from constituents was frustration over delays in approving their claims.

A preliminary analysis by DWD said the state's unemployment rate could hit 27%, a level not seen since the Great Depression. At the height of the Great Recession in early 2010 unemployment hit 10%. Unemployment figures for April aren't available yet, but a year ago the state rate was 2.8%.