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As Calls Go Unanswered Frustration With Florida's Unemployment System Grows

Busy woman suffering stress working at laptop while talking on mobile phone.
Mariia Korneeva
Adobe Stock

Stuck at home and unemployed--Floridian's frustrations with the state’s unemployment system continue to grow. Whether it’s accessing the website, or calling in, many say they are having no luck. They want answers and so do Democratic lawmakers.

Tallahassee hairstylist Cheyenne Dunnell was an employee at a SmartStyle Salon until being laid off mid-March. Since then, she’s tried nearly non-stop to apply for unemployment. The first step was calling in to reset her pin number.

“On the 19th I called 40 times, on the 20th I called 15 times, on the 21st I called 19 times," Dunnell said.

Each time she says she got no help. Dunnell says the website gives her the same result.

"The website will automatically crash like you can be in the middle of putting your name, your address, your email and then all of a sudden the website will refresh," Dunnell said.

Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Miami) says the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is hiring more staff to help with the high volume of calls.

"They’ve been telling us that 100 new people are going to be coming online just to help them with the phones. And that they just on Friday awarded a contract to a call center to help with the call volume," Rodriguez said.

DEO has not said when those people will be available. The agency says it received more than 240,000 calls in one week, the most since coronavirus has become a global pandemic. 

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.