Florida hires 200 extra workers to staff taxed unemployment office

CREATED Dec 17, 2013

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FLORIDA -- Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has announced its hiring of 192 temporary staff members in the Reemployment Assistance program.  The office has been bombarded with claimants who can't receive their unemployment benefits since DEO launched a $63 million new unemployment website, called CONNECT, Oct. 15. 

DEO spokeswoman Jessica Sims said some of the new hires will staff the call center while others will work in the remaining areas of the program. 

Many users have voiced frustration over busy lines and automated messages when they call into the call center. 

Deloitte Consulting, the contractor hired to build the website, has until Friday, Dec. 20, to fix all remaining technical glitches.  If problems aren't resolved by then, the company will face a daily fine of $15,000 for every day that issues remain.

Fox 4 has been requesting from DEO the number of claimants who haven't been able to receive benefits because of problems with the new site.  Still, officials haven't released this information, saying they can't differentiate between who is having technical problems and who is not qualified to receive benefits.