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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Phone Lines Jammed

      If you are out of work, it's bad enough that your income has been slashed, but to make matters worse, you're having trouble filing for jobless benefits to keep bread and milk on the table.
      Just for laughs try calling 866-500-0017.
      "We're sorry but all circuits are busy.  Please hang up and try again."
       For the thousands of unemployed who have gotten that cryptic response, their frustration level is off the charts cause they can't go through.
       So, you might ask, why not hike on over to the unemployment office?  At least you could stand in line instead of being frustrated by the jammed phone lines.
       Turns out there are no unemployment office to hike over to!
       Just before beloved Gov. John Engler hi-tailed it out of town, he shutdown each and every office around the state and installed the phone system instead.
       "He did a lousy job," confesses Doug Stites who use to work in the unemployment agency before heading up the Lansing office of Michigan Works.
         The anxiety-riddened unemployed are now flooding to those offices all over the state hoping to find a helping hand.
         "Our office was a zoo," Stites describes his lobby earlier this week as the state's jobless rate makes a steady climb toward 10 percent and beyond.
          "Because there is no long er unemployment agencies left anywhere in the state, they come to us in frustration saying, "Help me."
           Those who want to file can do it on the Internet, but there are still many instances where a human on the other end of the line is still needed.
           But help is apparently on the way. 100 new phone operators have been hired…but before they answer the phones, they, of course, have to be trained.
          You gotta wonder why the state was not more prepared.  It's not as if this unemployment thing is some new phenomenon that just popped up.


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