Unemployment claims in Rhode Island hit a high this month.
The Unemployment Insurance Call Center is currently in a “peak period,” with almost 1,800 calls last week. That’s up 147% from the beginning of June. It’s a dramatic increase in calls that happens every year when the state’s 306 schools close for the summer. School bus drivers, food service-workers, and substitute teachers are filing claims for unemployment – payments they’ll collect until they go back to work this fall.
The current call wait time is about 10 minutes. That’s half the time it was last year.
Although claims can be filed online without a wait, Mike Healey at the Department of Training and Labor says most people still prefer calling.
“Once you stop working, you’re anxious about paying bills, paying rent, paying a mortgage, child care –about lots of things." said Healey. "When people are anxious oftentimes they need human contact. They want to talk to somebody to make sure their claim is being handled accurately and speedily.”
Healey said the agency sped up their service through a lean management process after complaints from customers last year.