Unemployment Claim Hotline Jammed

Posted Friday, January 23, 2009 --- 12:35 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Historic unemployment levels have frustrated those trying to file for benefits in Wisconsin and overwhelmed state employees trying to deal with claims.

The state Department of Workforce Development has added and reassigned staff and extended hours at its call centers in Madison and Milwaukee to try to keep up with demand for help.

Last week alone, the state says the two centers received more than 254,000 calls. Last year during the same week, about 56,000 calls were received.

Tiffany Johnson of Green Bay says she recently tried to get through to a state call center, but couldn't after waiting for more than an hour. Johnson is one of many expressing frustration.

Department spokesman Richard Jones says about half of 83 federally-funded temporary positions added to deal with the overload have been filled. Jones says they're working to hire the rest. A total of 132 employees are working in the state's two call centers.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


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