Hundreds of call center operators are being rushed through training, paper applications are being made available, and more than 70 computer servers were brought to Tallahassee from Orlando over the weekend to help improve Florida’s overwhelmed unemployment system.
Also, over the weekend, the state activated a previously built-in backup to the Department of Economic Opportunity’s CONNECT reemployment system that had been designed as a redundancy when the system went down but was never actually connected.
The state is also shuffling around workers from different agencies to handle the increase in calls, and a three-week training period for operators has been cut to a matter of days.
About 250 people started answering calls on Monday after being trained over the weekend.
Another 500 people were being trained Monday to answer calls starting Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters at the capitol, Governor Ron DeSantis called the difficulties encountered by those seeking assistance totally unacceptable.
“Just simply doing business as was being done in January of 2020 is not going to be able to get the job done, here as we are in April of 2020 fighting the coronavirus.”
Jobless claims have skyrocketed in recent weeks, with businesses being closed statewide to soften the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson says the changes have made the process better for those applying for benefits.
“Last week, we had 17 thousand applications going through in a day. As of last night, it’s 62 thousand. That shows increasing speed and our ability to help Floridians.”
With the changes, about 80 thousand claims should be processed per week, up from 6,000 when the year started.
DeSantis says the state may also consider allowing benefits to be made retroactive to when individuals were laid off from their jobs rather than from the time applications were approved.
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