Computer Snafus at State Unemployment Offices


The Christian Science Monitor has a story about computer problems at unemployment offices in Ohio, North Carolina, and New York, as well as slow downs in operations in other states as high numbers of workers apply for unemployment benefits. Since September 2008, 1.9 million US workers have lost their jobs, and the national unemployment rate is now running at 7.2 percent.

As an example, the story tells of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which ordinarily handles about 7,500 calls a day a month ago, now getting 80,000 calls a day. The rapid increase in unemployed workers seeking benefits is just overwhelming Ohio's computer systems, causing the Internet site where to apply for benefits to crash. Phone lines were overwhelmed by the call volume as well. Ohio is now trying to add more workers and beef up its computer systems to handle the load.

Another story in the Detroit News says that in Michigan, only about "11,000 callers are getting through to unemployment claims processors each day via phone, while the vast majority of callers get no more than a recorded message informing them that 'all circuits are busy now.' " In November 2008 alone, 110,000 became eligible to claim unemployment benefits - Michigan citizens seeking unemployment benefits are stating that they have been waiting days to get through.

The same story will likely be told in other states as it is predicted that the US unemployment rate will continue to climb in 2009.


Risk Factor

IEEE Spectrum's risk analysis blog, featuring daily news, updates and analysis on computing and IT projects, software and systems failures, successes and innovations, security threats, and more.

Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City