Although employment throughout the state is getting lower every day, office jobs in Rhode Island are being added by the state unemployment office.
The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training recently announced its plan to hire 20 new workers to answer calls from people who have been laid off. Rhode Island currently has an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent and is tied with Michigan as the highest in the country. Because of the high number of unemployed workers, people have been waiting on hold for up to an hour-and-a-half to speak to a claims operator.
The office hopes that adding 20 federally-financed operators will cut down on hold times, according to an article by TMCNews. The office currently employs 30 workers, and the new workers will have to go through training before they can start.
In the meantime, the department has changed the times during which it will accept weekly phone calls that unemployment benefit recipients must make to certify they are still without a job. The calls are sent to an automated system, TeleServe. Calls will now be accepted from 12:01 a.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday and from 8 p.m. until 7 a.m. Monday through Friday.
The department also is considering adding additional phone lines to handle the automated TeleServe calls. The office currently has 140 phone lines. The office currently handles about 24,000 calls per week, compared to 12,000 last year, while TeleServe handles 16,000 calls per week.