Are new call takers at Ohio’s unemployment offices proving effective?

19 News viewers report more issues than resolutions

Are new call takers at Ohio’s unemployment offices proving effective?

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Because of the overwhelming demand in the unemployment office, the state says it continues to put more employees on the phones to take calls.

In the last few weeks, the state has gone from having a couple hundred employees answering the phones, to nearly a thousand.

But, are the new call takers proving effective?

Answering the phone in the unemployment office is one thing.

Actually knowing how to help someone is another.

After waiting for hours on hold with the office, Tasha Adams says the people who picked up only confused things more.

“You have all these new people that’s coming in to work, and they’re not even trained,” she said. “Somebody has told me something different every time I called.”

Adams started filing for unemployment when she was laid off from her restaurant job last month.

She says somehow her claims got so out of sorts while talking to agents over the phone, that this week her account came back saying she owed money to the state.

“My case has been messed up, and they had it to where I owe unemployment, and I know I don’t owe,” she said.

ODJFS Director Kim Hall says it’s been extremely challenging to teach new call takers how to handle the questions coming in.

“Unemployment is a very complex system,” she said. “It’s hard to hire someone fresh and have them provide immediate value for the questions that come up.”

Right now, Hall says the department is trying to separate the call takers into tiers.

The newest people on the phones are handling pin resets and general questions.

Tier two employees know a little more and can handle claims that come in with multiple employers, for example.

And, level three call takers have had the most training and can best assist in difficult cases.

Thankfully, as of right now, Adams believes the last person she talked to got her affairs straightened out.

“I need money to pay my bills,” she said.

She had a little money saved up, but is hoping to use her unemployment benefits to avoid falling behind when it runs out.

“I like to pay my things now,” she said. “I don’t like these being piled up.”

Hall says most of the new call takers were already working for the state, just in a different capacity or different department.

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