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D.C. announces $11 million effort to improve unemployment system

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D).
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D). (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
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The District is adding up to 200 staff members and new technology to help its overloaded unemployment system, part of an $11 million effort to aid residents who are out of work, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced Monday.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, hundreds of D.C. residents have complained about delays in receiving benefits and having their claims approved, prompting calls for change from the D.C. Council.

Unique Morris-Hughes, director of the Department of Employment Services, said agency staffers will undergo training to “improve quality of interactions” on Feb. 17 and Feb. 26, affecting operations on those days.

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She also announced updates to several unemployment programs that were extended by Congress until March, as well as a new program — Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation — intended for part-time employees.

Morris-Hughes said only about 10,000 D.C. residents had qualified for a different relief program offered at the end of last year, which provided a one-time $1,200 stimulus payment. When the program was announced, Bowser had said 20,000 people could be eligible.

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