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“Weeks of unanswered calls” – local woman details trouble reaching state’s unemployment office

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(CHILLICOTHE) WEEK - "We are currently experiencing a high volume of calls and are unable to answer at this time…"

That's a transcription of the recording thousands of Illinois residents say they've heard over and over as the state's unemployment office continues to be overwhelmed by applications.

Governor JB Pritzker acknowledged the issues openly in recent weeks after statewide business closures, furloughs and lay offs took effect as a result of closing non-essential businesses to curb the spread of COVID-19.

"Not a lot of investment was made in the States' IT system in the last 10 years and so the systems aren't acting properly." Pritzker stated during a March press briefing.

After acknowledging the outdated technology slowing down the filing process, Governor Pritzker laid out new recommendations, in an effort to stagger application.

Some of those suggestions included submitting online applications or calling during specific hours and days, based on the letter of your last name.

But the measure is not a fix all for everyone.

At least three times a day and I do it every day." Chillicothe resident Kelsie Seaver referred to the amount of times she calls the unemployment office in a 24 hour period.

Seaver works for a home healthcare company, whose client volume is determined by how many residents request personal aid. Because so many people are nervous about being in close contact with others, she says business has nearly come to a halt.

Right now, calling is her only option, because Seaver doesn't have a working computer, libraries are closed and her closest family and friends with laptops, aren't local.

Additionally, Seaver runs a household of seven, caring for her husband, mother-in-law and four children.

With no paycheck in nearly three weeks, she says she won't be able to wait much longer for the state's system to catch up.

"At this point I'm looking for another job." Seaver said, explaining that her main priority is supporting her family.

In less than a week unemployment claims in Illinois doubled,with the U.S. Department of Labor reporting more than 178,000 cases as of April 2nd. yesterday.

It's left local health and state leaders frustrated, apologetic and honest, that they need your patience.

There is no specific deadline for when the application process will pick up, though Pritzker has pointed out recently that they data system has been working more smoothly with the staggered application system.

To apply for unemployment in Illinois - please click here for guidelines and updates.

Lauren Melendez

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