Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tennessee's Unemployment system being strained as well

A story from the AP

(AP) — The growing number of people filing for jobless benefits is
straining some state electronic unemployment systems. In Tennessee,
Jeff Hentschel, a spokesman for state Department of Labor and Workforce
Develop-ment, says there haven’t been major overloads or crashes with
the state’s Web-based or telephone filing system. However, the
telephone system is getting an “unprecedented number of calls” from
people filing unemployment claims and some callers are getting
frustrated by delays. Hentschel says in the first week of December
2007, there were 7,431 claims, while in 2008 for the same period, there
were 19,920 — a 152 percent jump. To keep up with the increase in
volume, the department has hired 50 temporary workers to process the
claims. The agency has also expanded the number of claims it can take
online and increased the number of phone lines at its call center from
120 to 240. Additionally, staff members are working overtime and
weekends. Unemployment agencies from Kentucky to Alaska also are
reporting long hold times for callers and slowdowns for those filing
online because of higher volume. In Kentucky, where claims rose to
40,400 in November from 23,400 a year earlier, a flood of new filers
overwhelmed the state’s unemployment Web site and phone lines on
Monday, when more than 8,000 people filed initial claims, according to
Kim Brannock, a spokesman for the Kentucky Education Cabinet, which
oversees the state unemployment office. “People seem to feel like they
have to file first thing Monday morning,” she said. “They don’t have
to, but they feel that way. It’s just overwhelming to the system.”

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