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State unemployment websites crash under high demand

Long waits on websites and phone lines
Unemployment rates rise in 76 Kentucky counties
Posted at 9:15 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 21:33:36-04

Thousands of Cincinnati-area businesses are temporarily closed by governors' orders in Ohio and Kentucky. That means layoffs for tens of thousands, at least for a short time, with no paychecks.

So they need to apply for unemployment insurance. But that is easier said than done.

John Wilson is among those who has been recently laid off from his job, in his case as an AV equipment sales person. With a mortgage to pay, this Deerfield Township man went to Ohio's unemployment website to file his claim.

But, he says, "you just couldn't get on. It would kick you out, kick you out, and nothing."

All weekend long, either the site would not come up, or it locked up on him.

"It's been very frustrating," Wilson said. "Several times yesterday, several times Sunday, I just couldn't get on."

It's a complaint we are hearing from other WCPO viewers.

In Kentucky, some newly out-of-work say it's even worse, because they can't get the state's website to even load. And phone lines lead to busy signals and endless waits.

What can you do?

We checked with state officials, who say the problem is their sites have been overloaded in recent days.

In Ohio, for instance, Lt Governor John Husted reports that unemployment claims soared from 5,000 two weeks ago to 140,000 new applicants last week.

Ohio officials now say they are trying to reduce the time you need to spend on the site, and no longer ask you about what new jobs you are applying for, which used to be a requirement for receiving benefits.

Wilson, after 3 days of attempts, finally got in late Monday. His advice?

"If you are just patient, and go through the process, you will get there," he said. He says also to have all your employment information, and Social Security number, in front of you, because if you don't have it you will fall to the back of the line.

The state of Ohio, meantime, says it is streamlining its unemployment website to make it easier to get onto now, with fewer pages and steps to complete.

In Kentucky, applicants are now asked to apply only on the day of the week corresponding to their last name. Example: Sunday, A-D; Monday, E-H; Tuesday, I-L; Wednesday, M-P; Thursday, Q-U; Friday, V-Z.

If you can't get in right now, give it a few days and it should work, officials say. That way you get your benefits, and you don't waste your money.


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