Jobless May Phone in for Benefits
Byline: David Steves The Register-Guard
SALEM - Lane County workers who have suffered the hardship of losing their jobs in the current economic downturn can at least avoid one offshoot: the hassle of waiting in the unemployment line to file a claim.
The Eugene field office of the Employment Department is the first in the state to provide all aspects of applying for and receiving unemployment insurance benefits via telephone.
The small-scale call center on the second floor of Eugene's Employment Department field office will be moved to a new site in town, according to a proposal that will be presented today to a subcommittee of the Legislative Emergency Board. The move is part of the department's plans to expand the call center next summer to serve Southern Oregon, from the California border to the southern Willamette Valley, department spokesman Tom Fuller said.
So far, the experiment has worked well, he said, citing a random survey of 65 of the 1,327 unemployed Eugene area residents who used the service in July. Fuller said 84 percent rated the service as good or very good and 83 rated it as better than going into the field office to take care of paperwork - the conventional approach for handling unemployment benefits.
"The beauty of it is, no more waiting in line," Fuller said. "You call a person and you get a staff person very quickly who is knowledgable, has information about you on the screen and they're able to help you."
Anne Swensen, manager of the department's field office in Eugene, said the new office is needed to expand the call center from 28 to 80 employees. …