Florida’s newly unemployed couldn’t apply for benefits for the last week, and when a new system launched this week, bumps required some people to spend hours trying to sign up.
Reemployment assistance call centers across Florida were experiencing heavy call volume as the new CONNECT unemployment claims system went online.
The $63 million system is a complete overhaul of the former system which had been in place for more than 30 years.
Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Jesse Panuccio, acknowledges glitches with the new system, but says overall it’s been a successful start.
“The numbers overall shows a system that is working and that is allowing people through,” said Panuccio.
Even though more than 300 new lines were added to accommodate questions about the new system, many Floridians who are unemployed say they’ve experienced one problem after another.
“It kept kicking things out, kept telling you to refer to this and when you refer to it, then you call and when you call, you're put on hold,” said Loronye Haynes, who was filing for unemployment assistance.
The first day the new system saw nearly 6,500 more claims filed than on a normal day. On top of that, more than 14,000 callers looking for help were reported at the call centers.
“We’re trying to work with everybody and we appreciate the feedback," said Panuccio. "It actually helped quite a bit to see people posting common error problems they were having and we could fix them more quickly."
Many unemployed say they hope the kinks are worked out soon so they can get the services they need.
“You pray for a job. Until you get that job, you depend on that for survival," said Haynes. "And right now, it's very important to me and my family.”
Around 235,000 Floridians receive unemployment benefits.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity says they will work diligently to solve any problems that arise, adding it may take several days to get everything taken care of.