State Slammed With Jobless Claims

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

After Dave Ruttan was temporarily let go, he filed for unemployment.

"When I found out that no money was put into my account and I wanted to get some answers, and I call and call and it's busy all the time," said Dave Ruttan, who is seeking unemployment benefits.

The week of ending July 23 the office received 1.7 million more calls than the previous week. Its something their system apparently isn't designed to handle, and the summer spike in unemployment has the state struggling to keep up.

During the week of July 20 the state filled 101,380 claims. That's 20,000 more claims than average.

While the state says the average wait time on the phone is about 8 minutes, many are complaining they can't even get through.

Several times during the day, News Ten's Brian Johnson called and got a recording.

"Thank you for calling the Unemployment Insurance Agency. Due to heavy call volume we are unable to take your call as our agents are assisting previous callers. Please try your call again later," said the recorded message.

The state says unemployment peaks in summer because that when educators, auto suppliers and auto workers are let go -- anywhere sometimes between one week and two-three months.

The UAW is doing everything it can to help its members get any benefits they qualify for.

"Our benefit reps have been busting their buts. They have been really working hard and diligently trying to get things right contacting their contacts at the unemployment office," said Randy Freeman the Vice President of UAW Local 652.

A representative from the unemployment office says the high volume is seasonal and is no surprise. For them it is business as usual.

Some feel the system should better serve people are in need and were paying taxes until they were laid off.

"All you get when you call back later is 'We're busy right now' and I've tried and tried the last three days -- same response," said Ruttan.

The unemployment office doesn't expect the high volume of calls to drop off until the end of August.

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