Unemployment claims swelling in state

Connecticut’s Labor Department said Thursday it will extend the hours of operations of its unemployment benefits call centers and open them on Presidents’ Day due to a heavy volume of callers filing unemployment claims.

The rising tide of callers in Connecticut appears to be running counter to the trend across the nation, but some of that volume might be related to the blizzard as the state closed its call centers early last week.

However, on Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department said the national number of people filing first time claims for benefits fell by 27,000 last week, to 341,000.

“The beginning of the year is traditionally a very busy time for us in terms of unemployment claims due to seasonal shutdowns or layoffs,” noted Connecticut Labor Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer. “To help those depending on a weekly benefit payment while looking for new employment, we felt it important to remain open on the holiday, especially since last week’s blizzard required us to close our Call Centers and CTWorks employment offices for the duration of the storm.”

To further assist callers, the state’s TeleBenefits Call Centers are open extended hours the remainder of this week, from 7:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday.

The state TeleBenefits Call Centers will be in operation from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Presidents’ Day, February 18, to provide assistance to callers that need to speak with a Customer Service Representative to file an initial claim, re-open a claim, or answer questions.

Those filing a continued claim typically do not need to speak to a Customer Service Representative and are encouraged use the agency’s online WebBenefits system. Information for filing on the agency’s secure website can be found by visiting the Labor Department’s site at www.ct.gov/dol.

Rob Varnon