Rhode Island Struggles With Nation’s Highest Unemployment Rate

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (February 12, 2013)—Residents applying by telephone for unemployment benefits in Rhode Island must wait on hold an average of 51 minutes and some of them say their benefits are often weeks late after they finally do file.

And when they try to speak to a human about the problem, they're referred to a computer.

One reason is that the automated system can't handle the volume of calls in Rhode Island, which is tied with Nevada for the highest unemployment rate in the nation, at 10.2 percent, but also, Rhode Island made the mistake of laying off scores of workers at the call center.

State officials recognize the problem and are rehiring staff members and improving the system.


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