Unemployed In Memphis Frustrated Over New Unemployment Benefits Process

(Memphis) Jessica Boyd stands outside the former unemployment office frustrated. She has been waiting for 2 months to get benefits.

“They told me I have to call a number. I call the number, they put me on hold and gave me a reference number and I have to call back. I been calling back and coming up here the last two weeks and still nothing,”  said Boyd.

She says it used to be easier.

She could show up at the Unemployment Center on Poplar Avenue and fill out a form.

“It was like you go in, give them your information and BAM. You receive your card in like a week. It helps you until you find something else,” says Boyd.

She and others got a rude awakening when the unemployment office closed in June.

Now you can only make claims online or by phone.

“Sometimes the computers in here don’t pull it up when you want to, you have to go to the library and sometimes it’s just backed up,” said Boyd.

Linda Davis, with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development in Nashville, says funding ran out for the walk-in unemployment centers and the number of people going to the centers has dwindled over the years.

“In May there were a couple of thousand compared to 35 to 40-thousand statewide that were done by telephone or internet,” says Davis.

For Boyd, it’s another hurdle.

“A lot of people go out and rob, steal and kill for the simple fact there is nothing else. They can’t get no help at the unemployment office, they took everything away,” said Boyd.

State officials say the move to online and phone unemployment filing is permanent, but they are working to roll out a new phone and internet system this November.

They say the new one should be easier to navigate.

They also say 70 percent of  unemployment claims filed are paid within 21 days, if they don’t have outstanding issues.

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