Ky. Auditor Mike Harmon testifies in Frankfort as some Kentuckians still face unemployment issues

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 5:43 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - For more than a year, Kentucky’s unemployment system has struggled to keep up with the weight of claims. Some people still say they’re waiting to get their benefits.

State Auditor Mike Harmon testified in front of the state’s Legislative Research Committee on Monday. Harmon and others spoke about the shortcomings of the Office of Unemployment Insurance during the fiscal year of 2020.

“The UI system was flooded with claims, in March we saw over 49,000 new claims just in one week,” Harmon said.

Harmon, a 2023 gubernatorial candidate, detailed the missteps by the office which compounded the issue.

Harmon said the office failed to report data breaches and used an auto pay system, which violated federal law.

“We did a sample of 37 state employees. Of those 37 employees we found that 16 of them got the traditional, as well as the $600 enhancer of unemployment, even though they didn’t qualify for either. The net overpayment of just those 37 came to $116,000 or $117,000,” Harmon said.

The audit also found that 10 office employees accessed their own unemployment claims, which meant they could make their own changes.

We talked to one Kentuckian frustrated by how much money he says he’s received from the unemployment office.

“I’ve been working for 25 years, I’ve never received a check like that,” Jeremy Boyles said.

Boyles said that’s the only check he’s gotten for the entire year.

“It’s a huge slap in the face,” Boyles said.

The state’s labor cabinet responded to Harmon’s testimony, saying the governor “became aware of concerning activities” by several UI employees. After an investigation they took immediate actions, which included termination.

The Cabinet and Office of Unemployment Insurance was not invited to testify Monday.

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