WASTE WATCH: Florida's new unemployment system continues to have problems, more to come

Updated: Tuesday, November 19 2013, 07:51 PM CST
FLORIDA - One month after Florida rolled out its new unemployment system some people are still having trouble filing a claim. And more problems may be on the way.

The state spent $63-million on the new system, called "Connect", replacing one that's been in use since the 1970's.

"Connect" went live on October 15 and the system was down for five days while the switch was made.

At Workforce Escarosa in Pensacola, where many people apply for unemployment benefits, some say the system has slowly been getting better but others say it's been a nightmare.

When John Burdette tried to log on to the state's website for filing an unemployment claim, he got a message saying "service unavailable". And it was like that for much of the day.

"Whoever thought of this system and whoever bought it should be shot," Burdette said.

Burdette, who's been out of work for more than a year, says since the new system was rolled out, filing a claim has been very difficult even when the website is working, and even after getting help from employees at Workforce Escarosa.

"You call, you couldn't get through on the phone," Burdette said, "The 1-800 number would say that they're constantly busy. So you can't get through that way. It took 'em two weeks to get back to me."

"It's not easy right now," said Leslie Barlow, who's also looking for work. She says she's gone without benefits for about eight weeks.

"I haven't seen anything since..Or can't get through on the phone to talk to anybody about why," Barlow said.

Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity has said the agency is working around the clock to fix the problems. And they say for a lot of people, the process has been going smoothly.

But authorities admit more problems could be on the way when the system's data storage is moved to a new facility from December 6-8, though they predict the delays will be relatively minor.

Right now more than 230,000 people rely on the state's system for unemployment benefits.

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