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Mass. Unemployment Office Struggles To Keep Pace With Claims

Unemployment in Massachusetts jumped a whole percentage point to 6.9% in December. The large increase has put more strain on the state's unemployment benefits system.

WBUR's Monica Brady-Myerov reports.

The surging number of people wanting to file claims for unemployment benefits is straining the system. Since November, the state has doubled the number of unemployment claims intake staff and expanded hours for the call center. But many people are experiencing long waits for assistance.

Kim of Manchester, who didn't want to use her last name, says she called 20-30 times a day for a week.

KIM: It's frustrating because I've worked hard, I want to work I am entitled to some benefits and they are being offered, but I can't get access to them.

Kim, who is a single mother of three, finally got through but has to wait three to four weeks for her unemployment claim to be processed. The state says the increased staff has helped to bring down the wait times.

This program aired on January 23, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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