The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation will have representatives on the phone in the unemployment insurance call center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday for claimants who need to speak to someone about their claims. All other claimants who need to file weekly or initial claims are urged to use the Internet; and the phone lines open for those who need to speak to a representative.
This small number of claims with issues is creating a jam in the phone lines, preventing claimants without problems from being able to get through to file their weekly claims. Many of the issues with the claims were errors made by the antiquated system that are now being detected and corrected by the advanced technology of the new system.
DETR has about 80 staff members handling calls. The average call takes about 12 minutes, with the average hold time about 75 minutes. About 1,800 calls per day are handled by claims examiners. DETR has received over 300,000 calls to the automated system and to examiners since the system went live earlier this month.
Another reason for the jammed phone lines is that many claimants prefer to use the automated telephone system, instead of filing online. Additionally, some claimants are encountering security issues or they are having trouble navigating the new set of prompts and requirements. There are also claimants who are calling just to check the status of their claims that have no issues. Callers who have already resolved their issues and filed their claims are asked to refrain from calling back to check the status.
Filers using the online system are urged to write down their usernames and passwords and keep them in a secure place, so that they do not run into errors when filing their weekly certifications. Many claimants are calling to speak to representatives because they have set up multiple profiles in the system, causing errors and preventing them from filing.
Additionally, claimants receiving federal emergency unemployment compensation are jamming the phone lines to ask about sequestration. Those claimants were notified last month that a 59 percent cut would be implemented for the month of September and changed to a 7.2 percent cut from October to the expiration date in December.
Since the system went live on Sept. 4, more than 187,000 claims have been filed and 135,000 payments have been made. So far this week, more than 40,000 claims have been processed, Woodbeck said.