By: Liz Tufts
Unemployed Rhode Islanders are having trouble collecting their benefits. The state with the highest unemployment rate in the country has a back–log at the Department of Labor and Training. There's simply not enough people at the call center to answer the phones. A chunk of the department's work force was laid off last summer.
For the first time in 40 years, James White is out of work. "My plant closed down and I found myself out of work and in unfamiliar terriory, " says White.
But these days, just trying to file for his unemployment benefits has turned into a full time job. "I can not get through to the call center to talk to somebody, " says White. It's been going on for two months. Every day the same thing. "Due to heavy call volume my call could not be answered try back later," explains White.
But time is running out. His mortgage is due and he has a family to support. We skipped the call.. And went straight to DLTfor ourselves to get some answers. "We sure wish we were answering more phone calls we are doing the best that we can, " says Laura Hart.
Laura Hart from the Department of Labor and Training says the reason for the wait is simple. Layoffs last summer caused a backlog in benefits. "What that means not everybody can be on the phone at one time and it can make it hard to get through, " says Hart.
Hart says there is one solution, filing online. "It's not the perfect solution but we are trying a variety of things to try and mitigate the problem, " says Hart.
She also says avoid calling on Monday and Tuesday which is their busiest days. She says don't even bother showing up in person, you'll be turned away.