Electronic unemployment filing systems have crashed in at least three states in recent days amid an unprecedented crush of thousands of newly jobless Americans seeking benefits, and other states were adjusting their systems to avoid being next.
About 4.5 million Americans are collecting jobless benefits, a 26-year high, so the Web sites and phone systems now commonly used to file for benefits are being tested like never before.
Even those that are holding up under the strain are in many cases leaving filers on the line for hours, or kissing them off with an "all circuits are busy" message. Agencies have been scrambling to hire hundreds more workers to handle the calls.
Systems in New York, North Carolina and Ohio were shut down completely by technical glitches and heavy volume, and labor officials in several other states are reporting higher-than-normal use.
"Regardless of when you call, be prepared to wait and just hang on. Try not to get frustrated," said Howard Cosgrove, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, which boosted its staff of telephone operators by 25 percent last month to cope with a phone system that has been overloaded for weeks. "We sympathize, we're on their side, we're doing our best to help them out."
Read the rest here. Frightening. It looks like we'll hit 10% unemployment real soon, probably this spring.