Monday, March 12, 2001

Closings cause concern

The Associated Press

        CLEVELAND — The state's plan to close its 56 walk-in unemployment offices has raised concerns from business and labor leaders who fear the state will not be able to adequately handle all claims by telephone.

        “When I called (in January), I didn't get put on hold. I got a busy signal,” Bill Hornung, 50, an engineer from Willoughby Hills, told The Plain Dealer for a story Sunday. “It's not even high unemployment now. What is it going to be like if we have a major recession?”

        Gov. Bob Taft has proposed closing the offices over the next 15 months as part of a reorganization expected to save the state $10 million.

        Concerns have led Mr. Taft to appoint a team to review the plan that will be implemented by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The recommendations are due May 1, though some details could be released this week.

        The newspaper said internal memos and calls to the department's seven phone centers the past two weeks show the phone system is regularly overwhelmed. Computer problems in November and December disconnected many callers and blocked access for others.


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Tristate A.M. Report