Many Oregonians calling the agency with questions about their claims have been met with busy signals; those who can get through often face long hold times. Twitter; YouTube; Instagram ... Acting Director David Gerstenfeld has said that because of the delay in congressional renewal of the programs, the … “While well-intended, this program does not meet the needs of unemployed Oregonians. Please support high-quality local journalism. david gerstenfeld Oregon unemployment backlog may be larger than previously reported. And since starting a renewed effort to clear a backlog of claims Friday, workers have processed about 16,000 of the 38,000 unresolved claims for regular unemployment insurance benefits, the agency says. Thousands have received advance payments through a … It’s a strategy that worked well in normal times – Oregon entered the pandemic with one of the largest trust funds in the nation. The payroll taxes went up this year to begin replenishing the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund, which dropped from $5.1 billion to $3.8 billion as Oregon paid out an unprecedented volume of jobless benefits during the first 10 months of the pandemic. On Sunday, David Gerstenfeld accepted an unenviable job: director of the state's beleaguered employment agency. Dr. David Gerstenfeld received his undergraduate degree from Duke University. The agency has hired more people to handle the onslaught of claims and is focusing on processing the oldest claims for benefits. Asked what he'd be doing to ensure that the leadership change isn't just surface-level, Gerstenfeld said that he was "dedicated" to improving communication. That sounds like a simple fix but it wouldn’t help everyone – Gerstenfeld said federal law requires that some employers pay a top tax rate. Your California Privacy Rights / Privacy Policy. I know you're frustrated and anxious and that many of you have been unable to reach us or to get the answers and assistance that you need. He said the agency is speaking with the National Guard about the possibility of getting guard members to help with claims, too. “I’ve never heard from so many of our members on a single subject,” said Paloma Sparks, vice president of government relations for Oregon Business & Industry, the state’s largest business organization. We talk with David Gerstenfeld, ... please get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter, send an email to thinkoutloud@opb.org, or you can leave a voicemail for us at 503-293-1983. “Businesses go out of businesses all the time,” Riley said, “but this is an entirely different animal.”, -- Mike Rogoway | mrogoway@oregonian.com | twitter: @rogoway |. Interim Director David Gerstenfeld took over the department Sunday after Gov. Community Rules apply to all content you upload or otherwise submit to this site. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement, and Your California Privacy Rights (each updated 1/1/21). Gerstenfeld said out of 52,000 people who required adjudication at the end of September, 41,700 of them remain in the queue. Oregon requires people to wear masks indoors in public settings, like a grocery store, but not in offices. He said people receiving benefits do not need to take further action. “We would like the state to step up and not put this burden on businesses.”. He said the oldest ones date back to Nov. 18. Around $344 million in such payments have gone to nearly 240,000 people in the state to date, the department reported. The Oregon Employment Department has failed to get timely payments — and clear information about benefits — to thousands of Oregonians out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic. As of August 27, 500 claims filed the previous day remained to be processed, most of which were filed a day beforehand, Gerstenfeld said. Gerstenfeld said the processing has gotten faster partly because of a new Google-developed application introduced July 17 on an agency website, and partly because many claims are duplicates of previous filings. Subscribe to OregonLive. Gerstenfeld said claims for unemployment benefits still in “adjudication,” which require further review, were down from 52,000 on Sept. 30 to around 12,600. Gerstenfeld said that appeal period has not yet expired. Acting Director David Gerstenfeld has said that because of the delay in congressional renewal of the programs, the Oregon Employment Department would likely face an interruption in payments. Nonetheless, many other employers have already required masks among their own staff. By Mike Rogoway ... to make sure we’re striking the right balance here,” acting director David Gerstenfeld said in his Thursday testimony to … Oregon employers, facing three years of sharp increases in unemployment taxes, could get a break under proposals laid out at a Senate committee hearing Thursday. These benefits amount to $300 per week for an estimated three to five weeks. Under state law, a formal objection can still be filed to the agency’s new Dec. 3 notice. Gerstenfeld said he wasn't able to provide an up-to-date figure of how many people have been paid their benefits, although he said the state has paid out about $1.5 billion to out of work Oregonians in the past two months. July 24: Expiration of Federal Program Providing Extra $600 per Week in Unemployment Benefits (Statement from Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld) July 22: Media Briefing (video and audio) July 17: New PUA Application Launched for Self-Employed Oregonians (press release) July 15: Media Briefing (video and audio) About 22,000 await payment of their waiting-week benefits, down from an estimated 170,000 … Kate Brown asked Director Kay Erickson to resign, appointing Gerstenfeld as interim director. Acting director David Gerstenfeld’s testimony kicked off several days of hearings on the state’s unemployment crisis. Gerstenfeld has served as the Paid Family and Medical Leave Division director since September 2019. That would leave the unemployment tax increases in place but reduce the burden on hardest-hit employers by sharing the costs. Prior to becoming interim director, Gerstenfeld ran the agency's division overseeing paid family and medical leave insurance. Just 20% of Oregon employers, primarily those that cut jobs during last year’s closures, will have to cover nearly the entire $183 million increase in unemployment taxes this year. The department now says it’s open to significant changes in light of the unique circumstances created by the pandemic. Erickson oversaw the department as the pandemic hit. The Oregon Employment Department … Claire Withycombe is a reporter at the Statesman Journal. “We want to work with business groups, worker groups, to make sure we’re striking the right balance here,” acting director David Gerstenfeld said in his Thursday testimony to the Senate Committee on Labor and Business. Twitter Share . Even now, coming off the highest jobless rates in state history, Oregon has adequate funds to continue paying benefits at 2020′s unprecedented levels for at least three more years. the formula has heaped nearly all the tax increases on the businesses that can least afford to pay them, The Legislature’s upcoming session is packed. He made three proposals: Oregon’s tax formula for unemployment insurance is established in state law, so any changes require action by the Legislature. Oregon Employment Department acting director David Gerstenfeld said the department will begin sending out the 1099-G forms, which show how … He said he wanted to be clear about what the agency's problems are and that the agency wants to recruit volunteers from other government agencies to call people whose claims haven't been processed yet. Adjudication still a problem for the Oregon Employment Department. All rights reserved (About Us). All rights reserved. His time there coincided with the Oregon's long recovery from the Great Recession, and what at the time were "historic high workloads" and a series of new federal programs and changes, he said. And it doesn’t appear new legislation would affect the tax increases that took effect in 2021. On Thursday, though, Gerstenfeld acknowledged that Oregon’s trust fund has lots of money and so the state can consider temporary reductions – and maybe even long-term changes. The state’s tax formula allocates increases to employers who cut the most jobs, reasoning that businesses who lay off their workers should pay the costs of replenishing the trust fund. At a briefing on Wednesday, Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld said the department had processed 85% of the … In a call with reporters Wednesday, Gerstenfeld apologized for the department's missteps and committed to being more transparent with Oregonians. Acting Oregon Employment Department Director David Gerstenfeld said he anticipates at least 51,000 Oregonians could be filing claims in the coming days. Roll back prospective payroll tax increases in 2022, recognizing the trust fund has enough money to remain solvent without the added funds. Kate Brown fired his predecessor, Kay Erickson. Still, many complex claims require adjudication, which Gerstenfeld said is … And from 2011 to 2019, Gerstenfeld ran the division of the agency overseeing unemployment insurance. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Advance Local. By Carol Ann Benanti ... David Gerstenfeld would join his father in the practice of ophthalmology in 1992 and the father and son … Gerstenfeld said the original target for implementation was mid-December. Twitter Share. At the outset of the pandemic, 100 workers were processing claims; now 700 are dedicated to that task. He also said he anticipates supplemental benefit payments of $300 per week for six weeks — from July 26 through Sept. 5 — will start at the end of September as previously announced. Interim Director David Gerstenfeld said Wednesday that a total of 97,000 claims have been filed by workers newly eligible under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. The high volume of applicants and federal policy changes that were meant to expand benefits have overwhelmed the agency's phone lines and outdated computer system. "It's really hard to predict because this is almost exactly the time that each year we start to see a regular seasonal increase in claim filings," Gerstenfeld said. By Jamie Goldberg ... Oregon Employment Department director David Gerstenfeld shared the sobering data during a conference call with members of … The deferments are available to businesses whose unemployment tax rate increased by at least 0.5% in 2021, provided they continue making their regular payroll reports to the state. ... Twitter … Most people who were sent the payments by accident, according to Gerstenfeld, may still be able to keep the money if they formally apply for benefits. Contact her at cwithycombe@statesmanjournal.com, 503-910-3821 or follow on Twitter @kcwithycombe. © 2021 www.registerguard.com. Spread out the burden of the pending payroll tax increases among all employers, rather than just those that cut jobs in 2020. During the pandemic, though, the formula has heaped nearly all the tax increases on the businesses that can least afford to pay them – restaurants, bars, gyms and others who laid off workers when the state shut them down to contain COVID-19. "I am very sorry. But the governor’s office and legislative Democrats said last month they want to take up the issue with unemployment taxes, too. The vast majority of December's job losses stemmed from Oregon's struggling leisure and hospitality industry, which employed some 208,000 people before a wave of pandemic-induced shutdowns hit the state in March 2020.. Before that, he had served as Unemployment Insurance Division … Acting Director David Gerstenfeld says the Oregon Employment Department foresees a gap in their payments, even if Congress does extend federal benefits to … Gerstenfeld cautioned that some unemployed Oregonians in unusual circumstances, including 1,500 self-employed workers nearing the end of their 46 weeks of … David A Gerstenfeld, age 52, Staten Island, NY 10312 View Full Report. Make fundamental changes to the tax formula. Twitter Share. Known Locations: Staten Island NY, 10312, Scotch Plains NJ 07076, Staten Island NY 10312 Possible Relatives: Debra A Gerstenfeld, Harriet Gerstenfeld, Jacob S Gerstenfeld Brown’s budget request includes the $85.6 million that the federal government awarded to the state back in 2009 for the new system. While none of us caused the pandemic, it is my responsibility to ensure we get people the benefits they are entitled to.". David Gerstenfeld is the acting director of the Oregon Employment Department. He then attended medical school at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he achieved the highest academic award, entry into the Alpha Omega Alpha honor medical society. ... 503-910-3821 or follow on Twitter @kcwithycombe. As of last week, about 245,000 Oregonians had been paid benefits, but there are still thousands of claims that haven't been processed and people still waiting for money. The department noted that just months into the pandemic, many other states were already borrowing from the federal government to cover their unemployment benefits – money that must eventually be paid back through higher business taxes. On Sunday, David Gerstenfeld accepted an unenviable job: director of the state's beleaguered employment agency. “Even with record-setting recessions, two in a row, we have not gone insolvent,” Gerstenfeld said. However, the employment department says it will allow businesses to defer a third of this year’s payments until June 2022 without interest or penalties. The new head of the Oregon Employment Department faced lawmakers Monday, just hours into his new job. The department has struggled to … “These layoffs were caused by government action, not because businesses were making decisions about market forces,” Sparks said. August 24, 2020 (Salem, OR)- The Oregon Employment Department is applying for the federal Lost Wages Assistance program. Subscribe Today Newsletters Mobile Apps Facebook Twitter E-Edition Storytellers Archives RSS Feeds. The Legislature’s upcoming session is packed with pandemic, wildfire and racial justice proposals. And the agency hasn't been able to put into action an effort by policymakers to get another week of benefits to Oregonians by waiving the typical weeklong waiting period. "To those who have not yet received their benefits, I want to apologize," Gerstenfeld said. So he said it’s possible the state could set a lower target for the trust fund, resulting in lower tax rates for everyone. In December alone, full-service restaurants cut 17,600 jobs, the single largest round of job cuts for any single industry that month. Gerstenfeld said the most recent claims backlog for regular unemployment benefits was about 2,200, most being processed within five days of filing. The Oregon Employment Department had previously resisted curbs on the payroll taxes that fund jobless benefits. Others have received confusing or vague letters from the agency. At Thursday’s hearing, committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Riley, D-Hillsboro, said COVID-19 has created an unusual situation for employers that needs to be addressed. Last fall, the employment department repeatedly warned against changes that could reduce the trust fund. He also said the extra $300 per week … On Tuesday, Gerstenfeld reported that 552,600 regular unemployment claims—which include duplicates—have been filed by 538,600 people between March 15 and August 22. On Sunday, David Gerstenfeld accepted an unenviable job: director of the state's beleaguered employment agency. And unless lawmakers act, their costs will continue rising through 2023 because the formula allocates the tax burden over a three-year period. Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission. Gerstenfeld said last week there are tens of thousands of self-employed workers waiting for benefits, but he said he doesn’t know whether that number is closer to 20,000 or 100,000. David Gerstenfeld was named to replace Kay Erickson after Gov. Kate Brown ousted her over the weekend. In April, some people were erroneously told to restart their claims. On Sunday, Gov. © 2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Acting Director David Gerstenfeld said the Oregon Employment Department foresees no interruption in payments. Of their waiting-week benefits, down from an estimated three to five.. Continue rising through 2023 because the formula allocates the tax burden over three-year. Tuesday, Gerstenfeld reported that 552,600 regular unemployment claims—which include duplicates—have been filed by 538,600 people between March 15 August. Interim director will continue rising through 2023 because the formula allocates the tax burden over a period... 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