Local unemployed waiting weeks for Missouri jobless benefits

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by Lauren Trager / News 4 | @LaurenTrager

KMOV.com

Posted on December 30, 2013 at 10:51 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 31 at 6:46 AM

 (KMOV) --For people just trying to get their unemployment benefits in Missouri, the wait has turned into weeks.

News 4 received complaints from people who were so frustrated; they turned to us to help.

“I felt like I was going to cry and I felt very alone that I couldn’t get help,” said Duke Cebrelli.

Cebrelli was laid off from his job as an IT project manager back in November. With bills piling up, he applied for unemployment insurance, but after a while of hearing nothing, he did what the website directs and called the help-line: not once, but over and over and over.

“How many times have you called this line? Over the last three weeks, hundreds, with multiple lines going on. Have you ever been able to reach anyone? Not once.”

He’s far from the only one.

“It’s just frustrating the whole process, I don’t understand it,” said Andrea Bass who has tried calling repeatedly.

At the Career Center in St. Louis, News 4 reporter Lauren Trager was told few callers have gotten through at all in December.

Even Trager dialed the number repeatedly for days with the same pre-recorded response telling her to call back before hanging up.

Finally, Monday after waiting and waiting, News 4 got a hold of someone. A spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Labor told News 4 the holiday season and the federal government’s cutting some benefits are reasons to blame for a flood of calls.

But callers say it isn’t acceptable.

An employee at the Labor Department told Trager they would back-date people’s benefits if they were trying to call but couldn’t get through.

After News4 called about his case, Cebrelli was told he’d be getting the benefits, but so far hasn’t. 

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