CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Ohio Jobs and Family Services says it is struggling to handle a “record number” of initial jobless claims amid the outbreak of COVID-19.
FOX19 NOW reached out to OJFS on multiple reports that people in the Tri-State were having trouble filing their unemployment claim, both online and over the phone.
OJFS acknowledged the issue on Twitter Monday afternoon.
Speaking to the website’s issues, an OJFS spokesperson replied in part, “Despite the intermittent issues with the online claims system today, going to unemployment.ohio.gov remains the best way for Ohioans to file a claim.”
The spokesperson continued: “During previous downturns in the economy, claims trickled in, whereas these claims came in all at once. This amount of claims in this short expanse of time would tax any online system. We have been working around the clock to streamline performance and boost capacity so the online claims system can handle the unprecedented influx of claims, which has affected processing times.”
Meanwhile, Kentucky is using a rolling application system based on the first letter of the surname of the applicant to reduce the load on the claims website.
Asked if Ohio is considering the same, the spokesperson replied, “Yes, we have also discussed that idea.”
Kentuckians | File your unemployment claim here
Additionally, Kentucky has regional phone numbers available to cut down on wait times.
As for OJFS’s phone line — 1.877.644.6562 (OHIO-JOB) — the agency says it is shifting employees from other areas to help answer questions and process applications.
“We have hundreds of agents working the phone center, but we continuously reassign, re-prioritize and add resources to this effort," the spokesperson said.
The agency is also extending the call center’s hours of operation from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-1 pm. Saturdays.
If you’re calling to reset your PIN, you can use the instructions provided on the phone without needing to speak to someone, the spokesperson said. If you are not able to do so, then you will need to speak to a representative, after which you can file your claim online.
The spokesperson advised callers and filers to have patience during this “unprecedented time.”