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Ohio unemployment applicants left frustrated waiting for answers

Unemployed people are running into frustrations as the state scrambles to respond to unemployment applicants.

CLEVELAND — Cleveland streets once brimming with people eager to enjoy a meal out are now empty, and the laid off servers who worked in these restaurants are struggling as a result. 

A local restaurant server and mother named Brittany filed for unemployment on March 17 and says she hasn’t heard anything since. 3News is withholding her last name for privacy reasons.

“There’s nothing coming from unemployment to say ‘hey we need this information for you’ or ‘we’re holding up at this’. Everything is a very generic like ‘we’re behind and working as hard as we can’”, says Brittany.

Data released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services shows Ohio unemployment numbers soaring week to week.

  • The week ending March 14th, there were 7,046 new unemployment claims.
  • The week ending March 21st, there were 196,309 new unemployment claims.
  • The week ending March 28th, there were 270,000 new unemployment claims.

The growing unemployment leads to an increase in calls for help, which is now presenting a problem statewide. Kim Hall, the Director for the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services says they are working daily to catch up.

“The system still is dealing with a significant call volume that outpaces our ability, even day to day to scale up,” says Hall.

Hall says her office is working to get the call center up to 1,000-1,500 people to handle the sharp increase in calls. During the month of February, the office received 112,000 calls about unemployment. 3News also learned that the office received more than 1.7 million calls for help in the month of March.

Meanwhile, laid off restaurant servers are left to wait.

“But now, yeah I’m in the middle of week three going into week four and not having any idea if or when I’ll get paid is absolutely terrifying,” says Brittany.

To make sure her bank account doesn’t become as empty as Cleveland streets, Brittany has one request for transparent communication.

“A very sincere ‘this is where you are in line’ or ‘this is what the hold up is’ or ‘something to give people peace of mind that it is actually coming,” says Brittany.

Perhaps more frustrating she says is knowing she filed the day she realized she was out of a job, however she says she knows of others who filed after her, used the mass layoff code, and received unemployment benefits before her.

So far, the Department of Jobs and Family says they have paid $114 million dollars to 180,000 Ohioans.

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