State working to speed up process as unemployment claims skyrocket

Thousands of Floridians are struggling to access unemployment benefits as the state’s website is swamped.

Eric Trout of Orlando says trying to access his unemployment benefits has become a full time job.

“When you wake up and start your day trying to get through it,” Trout said.  “I would get like part of the way through and then it would crash and send me back to the beginning.”

Rechel Stamper of Daytona Beach says she hasn’t been able to finish filing her claim.

“I try to go online… can’t get online. So then I try to call. I’ve been calling for weeks now, haven’t been able to get a hold of anybody,” Stamper said.

She sent us screen shots of her call logs and error messages.

“I spent half the day yesterday crying because I was so frustrated over this whole ordeal,” she told FOX 35 News.

Unemployment claims in Florida have skyrocketed and are only expected to increase with a new statewide stay at home order.

“We are going to work as fast as we can on it, but it is not going to be something that is going to happen where we are going to be able to field and process these things overnight, just simply because of the magnitude of it,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis.

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The Department of Economic Opportunity says it’s expanding its call center, reassigning 35 employees, hiring more than 100 people, and bringing in an outside vendor to help with the new demand.

“The website has actually been an issue for years. A most recent auditor report highlighted areas where the website wasn’t working or needed to be improved,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.

Eskamani says the state should have been more prepared instead of playing catch up.

“I’m very hopeful that our concerns have been heard and the cry of Floridians is being recognized and that changes are being made,” she said.

Eskamani says she’s also pushing the state to make the unemployment site more mobile friendly.

Many people have reached out with concerns because they don’t have computers.