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Colorado labor department installing virtual agent to help with call volume

Labor officials said the Google assistant will significantly reduce the overwhelming numbers of calls related to unemployment claims.

COLORADO, USA — A Google virtual assistant will be integrated into the call center at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) to help mitigate the overwhelming number of calls it is receiving.

The call center is receiving about 12,000 calls a day, and roughly 4,000 of them are being returned, CDLE said.

Beginning next Thursday, all callers will be automatically directed to the virtual assistant instead of a receiving a busy signal, CDLE officials said during a call on Thursday.

CDLE said that it can not staff enough employees to answer and resolve all issues.

During the first phase, the virtual assistant will be able to answer generic questions, including navigating callers through self-service options like filing or reopening a claim.

The virtual assistant will also be available through the CDLE's website.

CDLE officials said the system has been used successfully in other states to reduce the number of calls going into call centers.

Officials expect that 10% to 30% of inquiries will be resolved by the virtual assistant during the first phase. If a customer's needs are not met, there will be an option to schedule a call back within a two-hour window.

CDLE said calls will be scheduled out for a number of weeks due to a large backlog.

During the second phase, which will go online in early August, CDLE said the virtual assistant will be tied into the back end of the system, meaning it will be able to find and answer questions on a caller's unique claim.

CDLE anticipates 30% to 50% of all inquiries will be resolved by the virtual assistant once phase two is deployed.

RELATED: 1.3 million workers file for unemployment as layoffs remain historically high

Update on Colorado unemployment claims

There were fewer than 10,000 regular initial unemployment claims filed for the third straight week, CDLE reported Thursday.

CDLE said 7,854 regular claims were filed in the week ending July 4, down from 8,566 claims filed for the week before and 9,882 claims for the week ending June 20.

There were also 5,900 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims filed for the week ending July 4, a decrease from the 6,173 PUA claims filed the week before and the 10,385 claims filed the week ending June 20.

According to CDLE, 483,065 regular unemployment claims have been filed in in the past 16 weeks, and 617,481 total claims have been filed, including PUA benefits.

CDLE reports paying out roughly $3.3 billion in unemployment benefits since March 29, which includes $1.14 billion in regular unemployment benefits, 373.4 million in PUA claims and about $1.76 billion Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation claims.

$83.6 million in benefits were paid out in the week ending July 4, CDLE said.

Below is a list of industries with the highest initial claims for the week ending June 20 from CDLE:

  1. Accommodation and Food Services: 971 claims (13.2% of all claims that week)
  2. Healthcare and Social Service: 767 claims (10.4%)
  3. Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services: 754 claims (10.3%)
  4. Retail Trade: 657 claims (8.9%)
  5. Manufacturing: 585 claims (8.0%)
  6. Construction: 534 claims (7.3%)
  7. Professional and Technical Services: 487 claims (6.6%)
  8. Education Services: 420 claims (5.7%)
  9. Wholesale Trade: 354 claims (4.8%)
  10. Transportation and Warehousing: 300 claims (4.1%)

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