Capacity for state unemployment website has increased 20-fold, but Lt. Gov. says it’s not enough

More than doubling workers at call center
Jon Husted.png
Posted at 3:45 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 15:45:31-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio has increased the capacity of its unemployment claim website 20-fold, and the state is working to more than double the number of workers at the unemployment call center as the skyrocketing number of those seeking unemployment compensation continues to cause issues and delays online and on the phone.

“I want you to know your voices are being heard and they’re being acted upon,” said Lt. Gov. Jon Husted Tuesday in response to complaints by Ohio residents who have been unable to use the Department of Jobs and Family services website to file an unemployment claim.

Husted said he has been in communication with the CIO and technology leadership of the department, as well as the private sector vendors who support the system. They assured Husted that the capacity of the website has been increased 20 times normal.

Husted said he conveyed the frustration that many have had getting through the system, that “folks out there are scared about both the health and economic consequences of what’s going on, and that we wanted to bring even greater sense of urgency to solving some of these challenges.”

The department also said they currently have 108 employees at the unemployment call center.

“And I said to them, that’s not enough, we’ve got to do more,” Husted said. “And I was reassured that the vendors are adding capacity so we could take more phone calls - that they’re going to put 180 new people, training them up to put them in the call center, and this is important to know, because you can’t just put anybody in there.”

Husted said the system is complicated, and employees at the call center must be trained to comply with rules and regulations outlined in state and federal law.

To provide some perspective on the challenges being faced by the state’s unemployment compensation system, he said that in the past two weeks they’ve handled twice as many cases as they have handled, on average, over the past two years.

Ohio's Department of Job and Family Services said last week it received 187,780 new claims for unemployment benefits between March 15 and March 21.

The one-week total is higher than all but one of Ohio's top months for unemployment claims in the state's history.

RELATED: Ohio unemployment claims soar during pandemic

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