If we do nothing, GDOL’s failure will eventually cause damage to other parts of the economy: mortgages will go into default; evictions will spark a dramatic increase in homelessness; state and local governments as well as school systems will experience revenue shortfalls.
The Century Foundation, a think tank that studies unemployment systems, recommends technology options beyond simply relying on phone lines and email. For instance, they say the GDOL should update its technology with a queue system that allows for triaging the most needy cases, like the single mother with $10 in her pocketbook.
Hiring more workers to address the backlog would require training, which the Commissioner Butler has said they don’t have time for right now. But business as usual won’t work either.
Our Georgia National Guard has been successful in other pandemic response areas like helping to clean nursing homes, staffing hospital admissions and food banks, and running school lunch programs. Perhaps DOL could use the Guard to answer phones and follow triage protocols, freeing up GDOL staff for the real problems.
The Governor and the Commissioner of Labor need to equip Georgia for the economic recovery they have been promising - by giving people time to handle a layoff, furlough, or dried-up employment market. Our state has talented, committed people who have the ingenuity to fix this, but it’s going to require an acknowledgement first that the Department of Labor is failing our people.
State Sen. Sally Harrell, D-Chamblee.