Urging patience with new unemployment website

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity worked Tuesday to correct minor glitches in a new website intended to provide a more modern method of access for people who receive unemployment benefits.

Some individuals sending questions to the "Connect" website project team received Twitter responses Tuesday afternoon of, "Thanks again for your patience," and "We apologize for any inconvenience." Those unable to complete online work searches were advised to try again Wednesday or to call in.

Department Director Jesse Panuccio said the agency was able to handle a typical number of claims for a Tuesday and most of the technical issues confronted Tuesday shouldn't be an issue Wednesday.

The glitches were somewhat anticipated, with the agency asking people Monday to be patient when the new site came online as there would likely be longer than usual wait times and some busy signals.

The $62.8 million changeover, which is in part covered with federal tax dollars, includes about $28.2 million for Minneapolis-based Deloitte Consulting.

The Department of Economic Opportunity online benefits site had been down since Oct. 9 as the Connect project team put the new system in place for the Tuesday morning launch.

Department officials have said the new system is designed to be more user friendly, can be used 24 hours a day and is expected to be easier for the department to maintain.

Connect has been in the works since 2009 to replace a 30-year-old system individuals used to claim their weekly benefits, monitor accounts and request information. The department provides up to $275 weekly to more than 200,000 jobless Floridians.

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