Last updated on September 22nd, 2020 at 12:17 pm
Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday that he has asked for and received the resignation of Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Caleb Frostman. Frostman’s resignation is effective immediately.
The move comes after a months-long backlog for state unemployment claims, which surged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DWD last week reported 6.5 million weekly unemployment claims had been filed since March 15. Of those, almost 11%, or 713,000 claims, were still being processed, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Evers’ statement about the firing of Frostman made it clear the unemployment claim problems are his biggest concern with DWD, but he also blamed Republicans for those problems.
“People across our state are struggling to make ends meet, and it is unacceptable that Wisconsinites continue to wait for the support they need during these challenging times,” said Evers. “It is clear that our unemployment system has faced historic levels of claims these past few months, hindered in part by antiquated technology we inherited, and processes designed by Republicans to make it harder for folks to get these benefits.”
More than 130 DWD employees have been reassigned to the Unemployment Insurance Division, according to Evers. In total, the DWD now has more than 1,500 individuals working on UI cases, a 250 percent increase from 600 individuals previously, according to Evers.
“We have continued to add additional state resources to support the DWD, but it is clear that we must have change if we are going to address these problems to get folks their benefits faster,” he said.
Department of Corrections (DOC) Deputy Secretary Amy Pechacek will lead the transition until the new DWD secretary is appointed.