Frustration grows for many still waiting on unemployment benefits

Posted at 1:33 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 17:17:07-04

OUTER BANKS, N.C. - About 361,000 people in North Carolina have filed for unemployment benefits, but haven't received any money, Gov. Roy Cooper said.

Now, the Division of Employment Security is staffing up to keep up with the demand.

"They know at that Department that they need to do more and they need to move faster, and I am pushing them to move faster," Cooper said Tuesday.

His words aren't enough to calm the frustration of many of those still waiting for the benefits. Jam Mortensen filed for unemployment in March, as the tackle shop where he works in Rodanthe is closed.

Now in mid-May, he still hasn't received the benefits and says his claim is listed as pending.

"It's twisted, man. I mean take a look around we live in crazy times," Mortensen told News 3 on Wednesday.

Mortensen has made call after call to the unemployment call line, state leaders and even federal leaders, but hasn't had any luck.

"It's ridiculous that we've been put in this situation," he said.

Mortensen says when he calls the unemployment call line, it often just beeps and hangs up. When News 3 called to try and get Mortensen help, a recording said, "We're sorry, but all of our call center agents are assisting other people right now and our hold cue is full."

For now, Mortensen is hoping to share his story to inspire some action. He's gotten some help from his church to make ends meet, but is stretching resources.

"I'm hanging in there, but it's frustrating," he said. "I feel motivated now. If you're just sitting there waiting for someone to do something for you, it ain't never going to get done."

News 3 reached out to a Division of Employment Security spokesperson about Mortensen's claim and is waiting to hear back.