Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

DES swamped by claims for unemployment benefits

As the ranks of Arizona’s unemployed swell, state officials are falling further behind in processing the thousands of new claims for jobless benefits.

Arizona has added staff, and employees have worked nights and weekends, but a processing backlog persists.

“We know how important these benefits are to those unemployed,” said Liz Barker, an Arizona Department of Economic Security spokeswoman. “And while we’re not where we want to be, we are working very hard to process claims as quickly as we can.”

Last week alone, DES received 13,722 new claims for new and extended unemployment-insurance benefits, on top of 12,356 claims the week before, Barker said. As of the week ending April 11, a record 107,097 Arizonans were receiving unemployment insurance, compared with 28,000 in January 2008, a 283 percent increase.

The department almost doubled its staff to 232 last year and is hiring 95 more by July. Still, those filing for benefits frequently complain they can’t get answers about their claims because they can’t reach anyone at the office.

“While the new staff has helped us to be able to answer more phone calls and take more phone claims, we continue to struggle with timeliness,” Barker said. The slowness is causing hardship, according to Ellen Katz, an attorney for the William E. Morris Institute for Justice, a Phoenix group that represents low-income clients.

The institute filed a suit last month in U.S. District Court to speed up processing for four people, including one woman who had been waiting five months for benefits and a man who ended up in a homeless shelter after waiting unsuccessfully for 10 weeks.

The suit was dismissed Monday, after the four plaintiffs got their benefits, but could be refiled.

Federal regulations require each state to pay 87 percent of all first-time claimants within 14 days if there is no dispute, Katz said. That 14 days starts after a one-week waiting period.

She said state records show that in March only 65 percent of those claimants received their first checks and that it took almost six weeks to reach the 87 percent level.


New job search sites

We all know the granddaddy job-hunting Web sites like Monster (www.monster.com), CareerBuilder (www.careerbuilder.com) and Jobing.com.

Career expert Alison Doyle (http://alisondoyle.typepad.com) has her list of favorite newer job-search sites. Here are five:

www.visualcv.com: Allows users to create a résumé that “comes alive with informational keyword pop-ups, video, pictures, and social networking.”

www.linkup.com: Bills itself as a way into the “hidden” job market and promises only real jobs from real companies.

www.realmatch.com: Matches applicants only with employers that appear to make a good fit.

www.standoutjobs.com: An “interactive career site that leverages social media tools and principles, including video, blogging and widgets.”

www.glassdoor.com: Allows users to find “real-time reviews, ratings and salary details about specific jobs for specific employers – all for free.”

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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