The state unemployment agency signed a $1.1 million contract with Google Cloud systems last year to help clear a backlog of unpaid claims, but unemployment problems remain steady.
The Department of Workforce Development declared it cleared the backlog of claims created by the pandemic late last year, with the help of Google’s Analytics.
They say it helped staff by predicting if a person would be eligible for benefits. However, the contract and the department both specified that a DWD staff member has to make the final eligibility determination.
Despite claims of a cleared backlog, the I-Team continues to hear from people who were denied and stuck in the appeals process, as well as a number of those who were told to pay back a portion or all of their benefits.
Michele Martino of Racine County was told she had to pay the DWD back more than $2,000.
She lost her job and then had a brain aneurysm that hospitalized her for a month.
“All I did on my end was call and press buttons when I filed my weekly claim,” she said. “So where did I go wrong?”