Problems continue for Florida's unemployment system

8:00 PM, Jan 22, 2014   |    comments
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Bradenton, Florida -- The state government promised action after 10 Investigates uncovered problems with the state's $60 million unemployment website. Despite federal labor officials stepping in over the weekend and giving the state permission to pay claimants the system is still having problems.

SEE ALSO: Sen. Nelson on fixes to unemployment website

Ten weeks after filing for unemployment, Lisa Blomquist thought her struggle to receive benefits were over when she received this call on Friday.

"This is Oscar from Florida Unemployment...just wanted to let you know your issue has been fixed and you will start receiving payments on Tuesday."

But when Blomquist checked her bank account this morning she was disappointed.

"I still have no payment. They called me personally to tell me they had this resolved and they don't -- it's a big joke."

Blomquist filed for unemployment through the state's new website, Connect, designed to make the process easier.

"I've faxed in same information on my last employer four times," she explains.

Instead, Blomquist and other claimants say the system has been plagued with technical problems.

"It is incompetence, true incompetence," says Blomquist.

The Suncoast Workforce, an employment center in Manatee and Sarasota counties has heard similar complaints.

Sally Hill, the communications director for Suncoast Workforce, says, "That was frustrating for our customers and our staff. They wanted to file claims and were not able to for all sorts of reasons."

But employment agents hands are tied too, so they refer customers to the unemployment office's 1-800 number.

"We are all about employment. That's why we are here to transition one from re-employment benefits to employment," says Hill.

Without assistance the unemployed, like Blomquist, face further hardship.

"I can lose my house, I'm about to lose my phone. I can't make car payments."

10 News repeatedly asked the state's Department of Economic Opportunity to address 10 Investigates' concerns. In an email, a DEO official said no one is available for an interview until later this week. While they did say someone will contact Blomquist Wednesday, no one would explain why she had not been paid as promised.

"At this point I'm beyond frustrated. I'm angry," Blomquist says.

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