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Pennsylvania Lawmakers Favor Hiring More Agents at Unemployment Call Center
October 24, 2012
By Rich Steeves, TMCnet Web Editor
For millions of Americans, being unemployed is nothing to laugh about. Families struggle to put food on the table and men and women spend countless hours looking for jobs. While there is nothing funny about unemployment, there is a certain irony in the fact that Pennsylvania is looking to hire more employees to staff the call center that deals with state unemployment issues.
Pennsylvania state lawmakers recently hosted a hearing to discuss this issue, which is frustrating many unemployed individuals throughout the Keystone State. Unemployed residents have faced busy signals when trying to dial the toll-free number for the state unemployment benefits hotline.
Many state representatives have been pushing for legislation to address this problem, seeking to hire more people to work in the call center and handle the large volume of calls. Representative William Keller, a Democrat from Philadelphia, is well aware of the problems faced by his constituents "There are people who can't get through and aren't getting their benefits because they can't get through,” he said. “This can't continue."
Frustrated Pennsylvania residents are looking elsewhere for assistance. The Philadelphia Unemployment Project, for example, gets between 50 and 100 calls per day from people who have been unable to access the state unemployment call center. Some community activists are calling for federal intervention, claiming that the state is violating the Social Security Act.
Another state representative in favor of hiring more agents for the call center is Ken Smith, a Democrat from Scranton. Smith stated that his office has been receiving calls from frustrated citizens every day. "By the time they call us, they're in tears," he said. "We just need more people on the job taking the calls. When you have eight percent unemployment, there are people in need."
Edited by Jamie Epstein
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