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Web site glitch snags unemployment claims

The state Employment Security Commission Web site is back up and running after it crashed Monday morning, an agency spokesman said.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Technical problems with the state Employment Security Commission Web site will likely delay unemployment benefits for thousands of filers, but they will get paid, an agency spokesman said.

Andrew James said Monday afternoon that engineers have added an additional server to handle the increased traffic to the ESC site, which crashed Monday morning after nearly 130,000 people tried accessing it over a two-day period to file weekly benefits claims.

"We didn't know what the limits were, and I think we reached the limits," James said.

The true test of the upgraded system, he said, will be to see how the system holds up Monday evening and Tuesday.

Hundreds of people lined up outside the ESC office Monday morning in Raleigh, some looking for answers and hoping to file their claims in person.

"It's very frustrating, because it's the beginning of a new year, and everybody wants their money," said Tonya Leslie, who was laid off from a textile job she held for 10 years.

"How am I going to eat?" asked Claudine Winfree, who lost her restaurant job about three weeks ago. "I'm on a fixed income. I don't have the money. I can't get food stamps. We need this money."

Anyone trying to file a claim Monday has until 9 p.m. to access the system, he said. They can also call 800-372-3453 or 877-841-9617 (for initial claims).

James said the lines are open and working but that callers may experience delays getting through because of the overwhelming number of people trying to get through.

James said that about 23,000 people usually file on a Sunday or Monday. He attributes the increase to the state's 7 percent unemployment rate.

There are approximately 300,000 people in the ESC unemployment system. About $33 million in benefits is paid out weekly.


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