Las Vegas Sun

December 18, 2014

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Unemployment system still plagued with computer problems

The state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation admits it is still having problems serving the jobless with the advent of its new $40 million computer system.

It says it will be open this Saturday to take telephone calls from claimants who need to speak with a live employee.

The unemployed have complained the Internet system doesn’t work, the phone lines to the agency are jammed and errors are made on weekly payments.

Sarah Lowe of Las Vegas says she has been trying every hour since last Sunday without success. “The online system is still down and to call is to get a consistent busy signal or just an automatic voice telling you that all operators are busy and to try again later.”

The department installed more telephone lines and has opened two previous Saturdays.

The department, in a press release Thursday, said problems with individual claims require examiners to “spend an unusual amount of time scrutinizing those claims to make the necessary corrections.”

Many of the problems with claims were caused by the old system, said the agency.

Department Director Frank Woodbeck said the new system has been operating consistently since it was started Sept. 4. The new system, he said “has handled the large capacity of users exceptionally well.”

He added, “We understand the frustration that the implementation of the new system has caused and we are truly concerned about the toll this has had on our claimants emotionally and financially.”

Lowe said, “This has been an extremely frustrating monthlong ‘update’ that should be considered a headache rather than an update." She said Wednesday that she gave birth to a child a week ago.

“Even if my hormones weren’t raging out of control, this is still absolutely maddening. I know I’m not the only one experiencing this.”

There have been similar complaints from others who are angry that the problems are not solved after three weeks.

Woodbeck said about 80 staff members are handling the estimated 1,800 calls per day.

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