Website to file unemployment claims in Ohio crashes due to ‘high volume’ during coronavirus pandemic

Updated: Mar. 23, 2020 at 3:31 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services website crashed due to floods of visitors trying to file unemployment claims.

The issues were noticed on Monday morning, hours before Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order impacting non-essential businesses across Ohio goes into effect.

A message on the website stated:

Last week, nearly 140,000 new unemployment claims were filed with the state agency.

“This system was not built for a crisis,' Ohio Lt. Gov. John Husted said during a press conference on Monday.

As of 3:30 p.m., the online unemployment filing system was still down, but Husted said that state workers were attempting to get the website restored.

Some of the Ohioans most desperate for help say no one had been listening when they were trying to point out problems.

After days of asking the unemployment office what we should tell people reaching out to us with problems, the office finally acknowledges issues exist.

Janae Kinney says she spent hours on the unemployment site Sunday.

“I spent literally my whole day yesterday trying to file my unemployment,” she said Monday.

"I didn’t know if it was other people, until I went on twitter, and so that’s when I emailed 19, because that’s the news site that I look at.

Calls and emails about the issues continue to pour into our newsroom since we first reported the problem last week.

One viewer wrote pleading, “If at all possible PLEASE help.”

Another woman wrote us saying, “I tried about thirty times yesterday and five times so far today... I even called but a recorded voice tells you to call back later and then hangs up.”

We experienced that ourselves when we called.

Last week, numbers show that nearly 140 thousand new unemployment claims came in.

Despite the issues we told the office people were reporting to us, a spokesperson told us Thursday that the system was quote “chugging along.”

However, after continuing the press the office about the calls we continue to get.

Monday, the Department of Job and Family Services posted this message on Facebook, saying the website is experiencing technical difficulties.

They ask for patience.

However, many feel more panicked tonight.

“Right now that’s the only income I’m relying on,” Kinney said. “Up until now, it was a breeze and now everybody is filing for unemployment. It’s affecting people who have already been on unemployment.”

Kinney says two of her children are on the autism spectrum.

She'd been working at a non-profit called Milestone Autism Resources until about two months ago.

“My position was eliminated,” she said.

She started looking another job, but has been filing for unemployment benefits for several weeks now.

Never had she experienced the trouble she did Sunday.

“It’s definitely not user error. It’s just not able to handle the traffic,” she said.

She was finally able to file her claim just before midnight on Sunday, but Monday morning she says she still couldn’t log on to check it’s status.

“They need to be able to make it so they can handle that traffic that’s coming through,” she said.

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