State grapples with seasonal layoffs and extended jobless benefits

The State Labor Department said its phone centers were overwhelmed this week by calls from people seeking unemployment benefits after losing seasonal positions.

As a result, the Labor Department said it would extend its hours of operation until 6 p.m. this week, but it encouraged those who are filing to use the web.

The agency is also trying to re-start the extended unemployment benefits program, that Congress re-authorized this week as part of its fiscal cliff deal. While asking people who are eligible for the program to file, the department noted it cannot actually pay anyone until the bill is signed by President Obama and until the state signs an agreement with the federal government.

Rob Varnon