V.I. Labor Department staff will be working over the Easter weekend to manually process more than 500 unemployment checks delayed by technical glitches and sending them out Tuesday.
In a department press release, Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan said they have “experienced hardware failures and sought local and off-island technical assistance. Currently, system diagnostics are being conducted to identify the problem," he said.
Unemployment checks are printed on a daily basis, and the last batch of checks were printed and mailed out March 30, Bryan said.
“Recognizing the upcoming long Easter weekend, we are diligently working to do everything possible to eliminate any undue hardship to our UI claimants,” Bryan said.
The department announced the delay Tuesday, saying it was evaluating the cause of the issue and working to fix it.
The department’s Unemployment Insurance staff will be working over the Easter weekend to manually process checks for Emergency Unemployment Compensation, regular Unemployment Insurance, and Interstate certified claimants. The checks will be prepared and mailed out to claimants Tuesday, according to Labor.
The department is asking the public to hold off calling about the checks for now "so that staff may focus on processing the checks as expeditiously as possible and in time for Tuesday’s scheduled disbursement."
The maximum weekly Unemployment Insurance benefit in the territory is $495 for 2012, Bryan said in January. In February, Bryan said about 1,700 people in the territory were then collecting unemployment. That number is expected to rise as former Hovensa refinery workers exhaust severance benefits.
The V.I. Government is going into debt with the federal government at a rate of $1.5 million to $1.7 million per month, Bryan said in February. If all the former Hovensa and Hovensa contract workers hit the rolls right now, the territory would suddenly be borrowing $4 million to $5 million per month.
The territory has to make payments for the first 26 weeks of unemployment insurance, Bryan said, but the next 52 weeks are paid entirely by the federal government, softening the damage.