Murali Vullaganti, founder of PeopleShores, present at an July opening of a women’s clinic at the Clarksdale location in July 2019

CLARKSDALE As the coronavirus pandemic hit, thousands of Mississippians were furloughed, leaving them with no income and no jobs. This sparked an influx of unemployment claims that the state’s top employment agency struggled to process. In response, a Clarksdale-based outsourcing firm announced it is hiring 75 workers to assist the agency process unemployment claims.

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) is tasked with helping citizens find jobs and handle unemployment claims, but the agency has struggled to  handle more claims than they can process, Mississippi Today reported. Congress passed a $600 increase to weekly unemployment benefits, but many Mississippians who are eligible for the benefits can’t get through to the state’s office. The department reported 222,000 initial claims filed from March 15 to May 2. Mississippi Today updates the number of claims every Thursday.

To help “expedite” filing and processing new claims, PeopleShores, an outsourcing technology firm based in Silicon Valley and Clarksdale, partnered with Horne CPA, a Jackson-based business advisory group, and MDES to launch a program. This program allowed for the creation of 150 news jobs. Of those, 75 positions are in Clarksdale, according to a news release. The two companies are focused on decreasing the hold times, getting claims into the system quickly and providing support to those impacted, the release said.

“We are grateful for Governor Tate Reeves for his support of this mission. We are delighted to see Horne and PeopleShores respond to our needs with speed and scale with their technology and operational expertise,” said Jackie Turner, executive director of MDES.

Jon Levingston, executive director of Coahoma County Chamber of Commerce, “applauded the opportunity” to grow the local economy here. 

“It is an honor to serve our state and our citizens by helping them to have a greater and more efficient access to unemployment assistance,” he said. “I am particularly grateful to the executive board chair of PeopleShores, Murali Vullaganti for his ability to recognize and address so quickly this vital need to take care of unemployed workers in Mississippi.”

In December 2018, PeopleShores announced its opening in Clarksdale and promised over 200 jobs over the next two years. It hired its first cohort of 25 by February 2019. In May 2019, the company announced plans to invest $500,000 and hire 175 more workers

If an applicant is interested in filling out an application, contact the Clarksdale WIN Job Center.

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Aallyah Wright is a native of Clarksdale, and was a Mississippi Delta reporter covering education and local government. She was also a weekly news co-host on WROX Radio (97.5 FM) and collaborator with StoryWorks/Reveal Labs from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Aallyah has a bachelor’s in journalism with minors in communications and theater from Delta State University. She is a 2018 Educating Children in Mississippi Fellow at the Hechinger Report, and co-founder of the Mississippi Delta Public Newsroom.