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State to upgrade unemployment comp claims phone system

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system—dealing with unprecedented demand during the recession—gets an assist this fall thanks to a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The state will use the federal funding to replace its existing phone-based unemployment claims system with a new automated system late in 2010.

The new system will cost $5.7 million and will help state unemployment comp officials route calls more efficiently and crack down on unemployment benefits abuse. The new system will also digitally record benefit-appeal hearings.

Over the past year, the administration of Gov. Ed Rendell has created a new unemployment comp web site (, extended service center calling hours and added about 400 temporary workers to cope with the state’s growing number of unemployed workers.

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