WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Unemployed Florida residents may have noticed lately it has become more difficult to claim their benefits.
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The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity said Friday the CONNECT system has been experiencing higher than average wait times when users try to enter the system.
Press Secretary Andrew Nixon said users may be placed in a virtual waiting room during times of heavy traffic to the site.
Nixon did not offer a reason why the sudden slowdown on the site, which has been plagued with issues since the pandemic started last year.
If users need immediate assistance, officials urged the public to visit the site's help center for assistance.
Unemployed workers have reported problems when they try to claim benefits and provide their work search history.
Tom Veenstra at CareerSource Palm Beach County said he's seen an increase in job seekers since June 1 now that people trying to collect benefits in Florida need to prove they are actively looking for a job. However, they are hitting these roadblocks and errors in the state's online system.
"Unfortunately, it's happening more often than not," Veenstra said. "They will get to a certain stage in what they have to do online and then it freezes up or they get kicked out. It's been very frustrating to them."
For the past two-and-a-half weeks, Zaheer Siddiqi has been driving to CareerSource to help his son, who recently lost his job. Siddiqi has experienced some of these problems accessing the state's site.
"We just cannot log in. Every time when he logs in, it says 'system is down,'" Siddiqi said.
Zaheer and his son are frustrated that the state's system continues to be plagued with problems.
"Something needs to be done, of course, because government works for the people. People don't work for the government," Siddiqi said.
Veenstra said they expect call and visitor traffic to increase with the June 26 expiration of federal benefits, plus federal eviction protection expiring at the end of the month.
However, Veenstra said they are prepared to handle the increase in demand.
CareerSource currently has more than 2,100 available jobs in Palm Beach County, according to Veenstra.