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'It's a nightmare': Laid-off Palm Beach County workers describe struggle to file for unemployment

31,000 filed for unemployment on Tuesday
Posted at 1:57 PM, Mar 25, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A crush of people filing for unemployment benefits in Florida is creating problems for some trying to navigate the state’s website.

The state said Tuesday they have seen an unprecedented number of COVID-19 unemployment claims flood the system this month.

Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity had about 224,000 calls last week and their website has also been sluggish.

The department, which processes the unemployment applications, says 31,000 people applied for unemployment benefits on Tuesday.

Deborah Remson, an unemployed bookkeeper in Palm Beach County, has been having trouble applying and getting help on the state’s phone help line. She said the website was rejecting her Florida driver's license number.

“This system has a glitch. I’ve been trying to apply for over a week now,” said Remson. “It’s rejecting my Florida driver’s license number since last Tuesday.”

“I can’t claim my weeks, I can’t collect benefits,” said off IHOP worker Geneva Jarman, who has seven people in her household., who was getting error messages on her application.

To compound the problems, all CareerSource Palm Beach County offices are temporarily closed until further notice. On Wednesday, they were directing all applicants to go to to apply for benefits.

“I tried the 1-800 number at the unemployment office to call for help and it says due to the volume of the calls that we can’t take you phone call and we can’t give you a call back. It’s a nightmare,” said Jarman. "How are we going to feed ourselves?"


All of CareerSource's online resources remain available, and they will continue to provide virtual services by email and phone to serve job seekers and employers.

DOE spokeswoman Tiffany Vause said the state's system is moving slow with the high volume.

“We’re asking everyone to have continued patience. If you are having trouble filing your claim, please try again later and please continue to try throughout the day and throughout the evening,” Vause said.

She adds the department is expanding server capacity, adding workers and hours at the department’s call center at 1-800-204-2418.

"As this pandemic continues to develop, it's important to take this proactive measure to close our centers to the public to help protect our customers, staff and community partners. We are closely following guidelines and recommendations from government and health officials to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to keep our organization safe and so that our staff can continue to be available to provide services virtually," said Julia Dattolo, interim president and CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County.

All public events, including job fairs, on-site recruitments, workshops and community events are also suspended until further notice.