Unemployment Hotline

**FILE** In this July 30, 2008 file photo, jobs brochures are seen on display at a state unemployment office in Sunnyvale, Calif. The government says Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008, the number of newly laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, the second straight weekly drop from a six-year high. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)
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The state’s unemployment compensation hotline is bogged down with people applying for unemployment benefits. The Agency for Workforce Innovation added more lines and more people to keep up with the call volume. But, with unemployment at a 13 year high in Florida, it getting hard to keep up with the calls.

This shadow belongs to a man who’s been trying to collect an unemployment check for weeks. He asked us not to identify him, fearing what he says may get in the way of his claim.

“I tried to call again and I still can’t reach them I don’t know what’s happening.”

Lamar Bivins says it took him weeks to get someone one on the phone at the state’s unemployment hotline.

“I started calling it, was like, three weeks, three and a half weeks and I never got through.”

Calls to the hotline have more than doubled since Florida reached a 13 year unemployment high. More than 606,000 in Florida have lost their jobs.

The State Agency for Workforce Innovation hired 200 extra operators and activated 70 additional lines to help field the calls. Agents are working 7 days a week to process claims.

Nicole Valdez is working overtime to answer phones. She says the unemployment crisis is hitting every job sector.

“A lot of people who’ve had jobs for years are just unable to find work, because there’s not many new jobs out there for them.”

With so many Floridians in the same boat, call operators are asking people filing claims to be patient.

Monday and Tuesday are the call center’s busiest days, since people with active claims have to certify their claims at the first of the week. The Agency is asking people to call Wednesday through Sunday if possible or to go to their website and make a claim online. The web link is www.fluidnow.com

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