(Washington, DC) – Today Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Department of Employment Services Acting Director Joseph P. Walsh announced a comprehensive plan that includes an increase in the weekly benefits for the unemployed and an expansion of city services to help those filing unemployment claims and looking for work.
“We are facing an unprecedented economic challenge that is hitting many District residents hard,” said Mayor Fenty. “We need to be doing all we can to provide people the help and benefits they count on, and to provide the basic services that unemployed need as they search for their next training, education or job opportunity.”
The new benefits for the unemployed include the Additional Compensation, a supplemental $25 weekly benefit outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) which will be automatically added to unemployment payments beginning next week and will be retroactive to February 17, 2009 the day the AARA was signed by President Barack Obama.
In addition, the administration announces an extension for those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and are actively seeking work. With the timely passage of necessary legislation that the mayor is forwarding to the Council of the District of Columbia, those who will exhaust their unemployment benefits by late spring will be able to extend them until December 2009.
Both the new supplemental compensation and the extension of benefits are 100 percent federally funded as part of the ARRA.
In expanding services, the District’s unemployment call center and One Stop Career Centers will extend weekday and weekend operating hours. Further, the One Stop Career Centers have added an additional 62 computers for customer use.
Effective immediately, the DC unemployment telephone lines (202) 724-7000 will be open from 8 am to 7:30 pm Monday-Thursday, 8 am – 4:30 pm Friday, and 8 am – 1 pm Saturday. The number of claims takers has been tripled to respond to increased demand for services.
The District’s full service One Stop Career Centers, where job seekers can find information on available jobs, training opportunities, and other job placement assistance including resume writing and interview skills, will also be open additional hours. Naylor Road One Stop Career Center will extend service hours on Wednesday evenings until 7 pm. Effective Saturday, March 21, 2009, both the Franklin Street and Naylor Road centers will open Saturdays from 9 am – 12 pm. Additional computers have also been added to each site to help those filing a claim or searching for employment.
“We have been working for weeks to develop plans to increase the number of phone lines, triple the number of claims takers and extend the hours of operation to better respond to this unprecedented increase in unemployment in the District,” said Joseph Walsh, acting director of the Department of Employment Services. “And we will continue to do whatever we need to do to help those who need our help during this difficult economic time.”
Additional phone lines and computers were part of a joint effort by DOES and several DC agencies, including Office of the Chief Technology Officer and Office of Unified Communications.
More information on how to file a claim, and the new benefits and services announced today by the Administration, is available by visiting the new website: unemployment.dc.gov.