Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Unemployment Benefits Disaster in Arizona

A very long time blog reader, today I started my own. I was inspired by a posting by Nate Fleischer on Nate's Big Blog entitled "Unemployment in Arizona." Nate and I are still waiting to receive payment for Arizona unemployment insurance to which we are entitled. Nate applied in August and I applied in October. The following are my comments to Nate's blog which I have quoted below.

Nate, although your experience doesn't give me much comfort, I am relieved to know that I'm not alone. I lost my job in mid-October and immediately applied for insurance benefits. I was encouraged by the quick response to my application. I was asked to complete a couple of forms which I submitted within the required time period and I received my "debit card" which I foolishly interpreted as a sign that payment was eminent. Nothing. Each week I have checked the payment status..."you were not issued payment because of an unresolved issue on your will be mailed a form..." The rest of the story mirror's yours in every respect including the observations in your last paragraph.

If there are two of us with this experience there are certainly hundreds of others. I have been struggling with a way to “get the word out” in hopes that numbers might draw enough attention to the problem and lead to a solution (I’ve been marching since the Vietnam era). I have considerable financial experience in the private and public sector, none of which has help me with DES; however, I do have a complete home office, the support of my attorney husband and due to the job market, time available. I’m an avid internet user, but never felt the need to establish my own blog. You have inspired me and my new Google blog begins: View from the Dark Side of the Moon.

Nate, any suggestions?


Unemployment in Arizona
Unemployment in the State of Arizona rose 2.2% in 2008, bringing the state’s preliminary 2008 (November) unemployment rate to a whopping 6.3%. As a matter of fact, Arizona’s jobless rate rivals that of California, and the State’s percentage of job-losses in 2008 were significantly higher than those of The Golden State. I guess we can be sure that all of those penalty-revenue traffic laws aren’t helping to save jobs in Arizona; they just add insult to injury, heaping additional fines and taxes upon an already over-burdened and unemployed population.I tried to apply for unemployment in Arizona. Since August of 2008 I have wrestled with the mega-bureaucracy from Phoenix with no success. I have called, written, faxed, even messaged my state representatives, all with not only zero success, but no response. In order to receive unemployment benefits, an Arizona citizen completes an unemployment application (which, as in my case, may be done online). The citizen then waits for the State to process their application and mail additional documentation and requirements via standard US Post. While I found this first part fairly quick and painless, the story changed almost immediately. What followed was a series of un-sendable faxes (busy signals and “down” lines), unanswered calls (“We’re experiencing unusually high call volume and unable to take your call...”) and other standard, government-issue run-arounds.So now it has been five months since I was laid off, no luck finding gainful employment here, and I am still working to get assistance from the State. Today I visited the local unemployment office in which I found a posted sign which read, “Unemployment office has been moved to: Call Center.” That’s a joke! They’re staffing an actual brick-and-mortar office with people who can do nothing but refer to me to the call center; that’s the same call center that’s not answering their phones because of a call-volume that’s too high! I wonder, since our representatives have never had any trouble allowing, nay pushing for, our jobs to be “off-shored,” why the State of Arizona hasn’t farmed out their call center business to any number of available specialty companies in India and elsewhere?For the record, I have never before been, “on the public dole,” nor have I ever received any type of government assistance, in fact I still haven’t to this day. I pay my taxes, lots of them, and have never asked for anything; now that I need help, it is simply not available. I understand that the economy is bad, I get that the State is overwhelmed, and I know that there are lots of people who are much worse-off than I. I can only hope that the people who really need help are getting it, somehow, but without the resources to “work the system,” how can they? I’m a smart cookie. I have a home office, computers, a fax, phone, etc. If I can’t get help, what of the suddenly unemployed single parent with mounting bills, turn-off utilities, and hungry mouths to feed?
Posted by Nate Fleischer