LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Many Floridians are hoping to get a recently-approved benefits extension; but instead, they find themselves getting disconnected on the state's unemployment hotline.
"It's been about a week and I call every day and I cannot get through," said Robert Reese. He and his wife have been looking for work every day after they both lost their jobs in the past year.
His wife's unemployment checks recently ran out, but they can't get through to the state to get an extension.
"It says cannot take your call now because we have high call volume, try back later, and they end your call," Reese said.
It's not the first time the state hotline has been overwhelmed. Cliff Gilman of Cape Coral ran into the same problem when he was laid off at the height of the construction industry decline in 2008.
"I just couldn't get through, there would be too many calls going through," Gilman said.
When his wife later lost her job too, he says they went online to apply for benefits.
"I think internet was the easiest, because they didn't have the problem I had with the telephone," Gilman said.
But Robert Reese says his internet messages aren't getting a response right now either, with the high demand for the expanded benefits. Now his family is running out of time.
"Things are getting really tight right now and I'm getting at the end of the rope," Reese said. "I don't know where to go from here."
In addition to the main claims hotline at 800-204-2418, the state of Florida also has these numbers for checking and filing unemployment claims: 866-778-7356 and 800-732-8204. The state also operates Florida Unemployment Internet Direct Now at www.fluidnow.com and www.floridajobs.org.