Unemployment offices in three states, Arizona, Oklahoma and Kansas have experienced problems with their on-line systems in the past week according to news reports.
A computer problem in Arizona's Unemployment Insurance Benefit Program website kept some 50,000 people there from reviewing their benefits or applying for unemployment benefits late last week and into the weekend. The problem reportedly was fixed late Sunday night.
In Oklahoma, tens of thousands of residents have not been able to file on-line for unemployment benefits Sunday and Monday because of problems with Oklahoma Employment Security Commission's mainframe. The problem is also supposedly fixed, but the Commission's on-line system experienced similar computer problems last month, making some people worry that there may be more problems in the future.
The Kansas State Unemployment Office website is now working, after having major "technical difficulties" early last week. Because of the heavy volume of unemployment benefits claims in the state, however, some claims are now taking up to four weeks to process the Unemployment Office website says. In July, another computer problem in the KS Unemployment Office delayed unemployment payments for a couple of days to over 21,000 benefit recipients.
Over the past year, there have been computer problems reported at unemployment office websites in the states of Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and New York because of the unexpectedly large number of people requesting unemployment benefits in each. I suspect more states will join the list, even as the recession looks like it may be bottoming out in the US.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.