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Connecticut Unemployment Benefits System Goes Live

The state’s Department of Labor launched the updated ReEmployCT system this week. The previous unemployment system was scrapped when it could not keep pace with the flood of pandemic-related claims.

The ReEmployCT website homepage.
The ReEmployCT website homepage.
Image Courtesy Connecticut Department of Labor
(TNS) — More than two years after it was swamped with requests for unemployment benefits from furloughed workers, the Connecticut Department of Labor's new ReEmployCT went live Tuesday — with a sprinkling of complaints from people flummoxed already by the new system.

DOL mothballed an unemployment benefits system that failed at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with an antiquated mainframe computer architecture that was not built to handle hundreds of thousands of new claims flooding the department in the spring of 2020. ReEmployCT was the system designed to take its place.

As of mid-June, less than 19,000 people were receiving unemployment benefits from the Connecticut Department of Labor, with claims on the rise at that point due largely to school bus companies laying off drivers for the summer. More leisure sector workers were filing claims as well, however, with inflation thought to be limiting excess spending for some families, with an impact on the hospitality and entertainment industries.

Under ReEmployCT, those already drawing benefits must create a new username and password among six steps necessary to have their account activated. DOL is urging claimants to make sure they correct contact information is in their account to avoid any interruption in benefits. Less than an hour after the noon launch on Twitter, DOL asked people to be patient if the website was slow to load.

Multiple people were voicing frustration on Twitter into the afternoon hours, with one complaining of "an insane amount of bugs and issues" after a dozen attempts to enter information, with the lone success generating an email verification.

The website has links for worker claims and business payments into the unemployment insurance trust fund. DOL is also offering telephone assistance at 1-800-956-3294, with calls on Tuesday afternoon generating an automated voice response that promised a call-back in 50 to 80 minutes. Later in the day, DOL posted on social media that calls would be returned on Wednesday.

On Tuesday evening, DOL spokesperson Juliet Manalan told CTInsider that large conversions can involve isolated issues for some people.

Even as ReEmployCT went live Tuesday, Connecticut's CTHires website remained offline which connects applicants to employers, with DOL steering job seekers to as an alternative. A Florida company called Geographic Solutions confirmed last week it took down career websites it runs in multiple states, after detecting what a company official called "anomalous activity" but finding no evidence that personal information of job seekers had been accessed.

Manalan confirmed that the CTHires interruption was the result of the Geographic Solutions situation, and that the ReEmployCT system is not linked to CTHires.

The base platform for ReEmployCT was developed by software giant Tata Consultancy Services, with funding from Connecticut, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Rhode Island. Kurt Westby, who led the Connecticut Department of Labor in the first year of the pandemic, had credited TCS with cobbling together a system in just five weeks to help DOL process solo worker benefit claims under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.

The pandemic forced DOL to delay the launch date for the new website more than a year. DOL indicated it chose a July launch to coincide with what is typically a slower month for new unemployment claims, as well as the start of a fresh fiscal year for the state and many businesses.

©2022 the Connecticut Post, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.