Jobless people can't get through to unemployment office

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by By / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on January 20, 2009 at 12:15 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 23 at 12:27 PM

Video: Getting through to unemployment a hassle

SEATTLE - More people these days are finding themselves out of work and needing help from the state, especially unemployment.

But sometimes, those people can't get through to the agency by phone or via the web.

Scores of people have contacted KING 5 News desperate to get a hold of someone - anyone - at the Employment Security Department. Some of these people are flat broke and need help now.

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Schuyler Bagwell is tired of rejection.

"It's infuriating. It gets under my skin. I feel powerless about it too," said Schuyler. He was laid off in November by the City of Seattle and each day, Schuyler calls the Employment Security Department - better known as unemployment - trying to get benefits.

"I call anywhere from 30 to 50 times a day, Monday through Friday, 8 to 5," said Schuyler.

The agency's Web system isn't helping either. And now, Schuyler is out of cash.

"I really don't know how I'm going to pay February's rent if I can't get the unemployment insurance going," said Schuyler.

Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-11th District has heard it too.

"I've had constituents come to me and say 'I'm having trouble getting through and I'm having trouble getting benefits,'" said Hudgins.

We wanted answers, but neither Commissioner Karen Lee nor Deputy Commissioner Paul Trause would talk to us, so we drove to Olympia and met spokesman Mark Varadian, who didn't have much to say to us.

"I don't understand why they wouldn't talk to you about that," said Rep. Tami Green, D-28th District. She is on the committee that oversees the Employment Security Department. She says the agency has added more people, but it still isn't enough to handle all the new claims.

"We have benefit money to give people and we need to get it out and into the economy, so it sounds like we need to get more benefits for them," said Green.

Schuyler's representative has contacted the Employment Security Department about his claim.

That's the key. If you can't get through, call your representative. They have a direct line to the agency.

If you have a consumer concern, call Jesse Jones toll-free at 877-51-JESSE or e-mail him at .

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