If you're having trouble filing for unemployment, you're not alone.
State systems across the country are struggling to handle the rapid rise in claims. In some cases, the problem is aging technology. In others, it's insufficient staff.
Last week the Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims have reached their highest level since 1982. Each state handles unemployment claims through its own system, and each state is struggling with its own set of problems:
- As I reported earlier, computer systems have crashed in New York, North Carolina and Ohio.
- In California, overloaded phone systems are sending callers to recorded messages or hanging up on them.
- Florida's phone and computer filing systems are failing.
- Indiana, Maine and Wisconsin are adding staff to process claims, while Michigan plans to double their staff. Other states have been delayed or are unable to take on new staff to help because of statewide hiring freezes.
This is a good example of why cutbacks and belt-tightening aren't always the best or the only answer to tough economic times. Nor are they necessarily the best thing to do when times are good. Any organization - business, government or nonprofit - needs to have enough staff on hand to meet the needs of their clients and customers. The pressure to cut costs has to be balanced against what it takes to meet those needs.
If spending a little extra is what it takes to hire the staff needed to make sure unemployed workers get the help they need, then right now is the time to spend it.
And when the economy gets back on its feet, invest in better computer systems.