Calls for unemployement benefits rises, so does people's frustration

By Robyn McGlohn - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF)-  Alabama's unemployment rate hit 10.1% in June. With unemployment rising, that means more phone calls to the state's unemployment office.

Now people are fed up with the busy signal and want help just as much as answers.

"They need to change, they need to change, the economy is already bad...I'm sorry," said Loretta Ragland, who is just one of the many people frustrated with the bad economy.

In December, her husband, who's also a Vietnam veteran, lost his job.

After successfully filing for unemployment, it was abrubtly cut off when he reported making a small income.

"He worked one day. One day! Made 69 dollars," said Ragland.

His unemployment has since been reinstated, but Ragland said that was just the first hurdle.

"Everytime I called, there would be nobody. Nobody! You get the same recording that states 'If you have a problem, call this number', and I would call another number, and I would get the same recording over and over again," she said.

There's no doubt the call volume for unemployement benefits is up.

The state's unemployment stands at 10.1%, which is about 215,617 Alabamians without jobs.

For folks like Loretta Ragland, and especially her husband, it means looking for the money they deserve.

"They are supposed to go back and retro pay him from the time they cut his unemployment off to the time he went back to work, which was May 5th," she said.

However, Ragland can't get through to a person when she calls the unemployment office.

The Department of Industrial Relations said that in response to the unemployment situation, they've increased their call center personnel by 55 percent since April of 2008, which means 67 employees have been added.

"I understand they are swamped, but just give us a person to say 'I feel your pain and we're working on it'," Ragland said.

As bills mount, Ragland keeps waiting, and until the money comes in, she said they have no where else to turn.

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