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Wisconsin deals with backlog of unemployment delays

MADISON, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)   If you're filing for unemployment, and you can't reach a claim specialist, you're not alone. The state Workforce Development agency says it's dealing with high volumes of phone calls, and staffers are working overtime to handle it all.

Ron Youngbluth of Pewaukee had trouble getting through, after he was laid off December 6 as a part-time optometrist. He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he tried two dozen times to get through -- and all he got was an automated system. Agency spokesman John Dipko said a call-back feature was added late in 2012, giving folks the option of being called by somebody. Youngbluth said he never got that. The state did call him after the Journal Sentinel looked into his case. Dipko said his agency is in the peak season for handling unemployment claims, from about Thanksgiving to mid-to-late January. He says extra phone personnel are added as needed. Dipko expects the situation to improve now that businesses are going full-speed again after the holidays.

In the meantime, those seeking help are being urged to avoid calling on Mondays, early mornings, and noon-hours which are all the busiest. They're urged to have their work and Social Security information handy.

Officials also say the fastest way to file is online.