Floridians who want state unemployment benefits may need to brush up on their computer skills. That's because there's no way to sign up in person, and those who apply by phone can expect either busy signals or waits of up to 90 minutes to speak with someone.
''I've called them on that line, and it's been busy for hours on end,'' said Marta Gonzalez of Miami, who wants to know why she hasn't received any payments yet.
As the ranks of Florida's unemployed grow, the state labor department is finding itself deluged with applications for compensation, which maxes out at $275 per week.
In December alone, the department handled more than 157,000 applications, or almost triple the number from the same month in 2007. For all of 2008, the department handled 1.3 million applications, or almost twice as many as the previous year.
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