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Staff Reductions Make For Long Waits At Employment Dept.

Unemployed Oregonians are facing wait times of three hours or more to talk to staff at the Employment Department.  The state is asking people to use its automated systems instead.

People who are collecting unemployment benefits have to contact the state every week to say they’re able, available and actively seeking work. 

The law is there to make sure they’re really trying to find a job.  But over the last year, declining federal support has reduced staffing at Oregon’s unemployment call centers by 17 percent.

Employment Department spokesman, Tom Fuller, says the agency wants people to file benefit claims every single week.

“They’re supposed to do that anyway. But we’re finding that a lot of people are waiting 2 or 3 weeks and then they can’t do it online and they call the call center and then they have their claim backdated. They’re not going to be able to do that anymore. The second thing we need people to do is use our automated systems,” Fuller said.

That will free up the phone lines, he says.  The agency is also adding some part-time staff to decrease wait times.

The weekly claim line: 1-800-982-8920

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