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Local unemployment office swamped

7:49 PM, Dec 30, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Hundreds of frustrated unemployment recipients lined up today at the Unemployment Insurance Agency office in Grand Rapids, only to be told there was no one available to help them.

When doors opened at 7:30 a.m., more than 100 people had pulled a ticket to claim their place in line. By noon, the count was more than 400, but less than 18 percent had been served.

Tyshanica Patterson, 39, of Grand Rapids arrived at 8 a.m. and was number 170 in line. As of 12:30 p.m., they were only on number 79, she said.

"I got tired standing in the office so I'm waiting outside in my car,'' said Patterson, who lost her job with an insurance company in November after working there nearly 13 years.

The same story was reported at the several of the state's 15 Problem Resolution Offices, like the one on Plainfield Avenue NE.
State officials say it is not uncommon to have more people visiting state offices during the last week of the year because of closures for Christmas and New Years.

"I'm only trying to claim one week of unemployment,'' said Steve Kazmierski, 47, of Standale. "I go back to work Thursday and they're closed Tuesday and Wednesday, so my chances of seeing someone is going to be zero.''

By early afternoon, the Grand Rapids office stopped issuing numbers to people waiting in line. Instead, they were given a form to fill out and leave with the office. UIA officials said people filling out the form will be contacted this week.

Part of the traffic Monday was from people inquiring about federal emergency unemployment benefits, which expired last week.

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