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State trying to fix unemployment system

Posted at 8:36 PM, Nov 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-22 12:24:40-05

The state is having problems with its new online unemployment-benefit registration system. Viewers came to FOX 47 because they're having trouble registering for benefits.

The state told us that it's working just not how they wanted it to. The new program launched over the weekend and it's left a trail of issues the state is now working around the clock to fix.

When FOX 47's Alani Letang called the MiLogin Help Line it said: "If you wish to speak with a customer service representative press six." After pressing six it said "thank you for calling the unemployment insurance agency due to heavy call volume we are unable to take your call as the agents are assisting previous callers. please try your call again later."

"This is heading into a busier period of time for us. You have a lot of seasonal work that is ending now or very soon and that increasing the number of people that are applying for benefits, " said Chris DeWitt, spokesperson Michigan Talent Investiment Agency.

The state told us when you have an online system that is not working that puts more pressure on the phone lines.

The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) which a division of the Talent Investment Agency implemented MI Login over the weekend. It lets people have a single login for multiple state apps. The goal was to make it easier to sign up for everything from unemployment to hunting licenses. There are clearly still some kinks to be worked out.

"What we are asking for at this point is for people to be as patient as possible, we apologize for the inconvenience. This is often times happening to people in a tough situation, we realize that. We have people working extra hours on our end ," said DeWitt.

Some of the complaints we've heard revolve around why the state put it online in a holiday-shortened week. A spokesman told us the state has been testing the system for the past two months.

"Sometimes with a system that's as large as this with as many users as this there are unforeseen instances that pop up after the testing and when you go live. And that's what happened here," said Caleb Buhs, Communications Director for the Department Technology, Management & Technology.

Buhs added, "we were prepared for the additional load there is just been some issues crop up that weren't in the test environment."

They're hoping the slowdowns and trouble signing up teach them how to improve.

"You always learn something new everytime you implement, especially with technology the way it changes at a rapid pace you're trying to keep up with that. And everytime you implement a new system you make some new connection with another system, you learn something, " said Buhs.

The state said the website has been working better as the week has gone along. Staffers have been able to fix some of the problems.

However, that's no consolation for people who haven't been able to get through and won't be able to try again until Monday.

If you are having too much trouble signing up or signing in, you'll have to go to your local unemployment office or try calling the helpline again.