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Helping Unemployed a Growth Industry

June 8th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

Beginning today, Unemployed Floridians have a new number to call to sign up for extended benefits through the end of the year. (888-896-0091). The hotline will handle up to ten thousand calls a day for as many as 250 thousand people seeking extended unemployment benefits. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, in Florida, helping the unemployed is a growth business.

John Sacco was out of work for three months before landing a job answering phones helping out of work people apply for benefits.

I understand just how tough it is to find work in almost any area, Sacco said.

The calls are non stop. Here in Florida helping the unemployed is a growth industry.

There are 84 people in this call center answering calls 11 hours a day, 6 days a week. In the last year, 500 people have been hired.

There are so many calls, 250 percent more than a year ago, that on Monday, a private contractor began answering the phone and questions about extended benefits.
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We anticipate them to come online in full force in August, but theyve opened about two months early to help with the immediate need, Robby Cunningham with the Agency for Workforce Innovation said.

Wait times of a half hour or more were nonexistent. One caller was just days from losing any help at all.

A lot of people do think they can get by on their savings but its important to get the process started because it can take a few weeks, Sacco said.

And while getting through more quickly on the phone wont get you a job any sooner, it will ease the frustration.

More than 500 thousand people are currently receiving unemployment benefits.

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