ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Since its launch on Friday, Maryland’s unemployment website has been plagued with problems.

For weeks, residents have been saying how frustrating it is for people trying to get through to someone at the unemployment offices, waiting for hours.

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Jason Suggs works at the unemployment claims center in College Park and said it’s also frustrating working on the other side.

“On Friday, we rolled out a new application that allows Marylanders to file all types of claims entirely online,” Suggs said. “Unfortunately, we were not trained on the system until the night before its launch and a couple of hours in, the site crashed.”

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The site crashed over the weekend, and on Monday, the Maryland Department of Labor apologized for the difficulties, writing, “the launch of the site has clearly fallen short.”

“I’m one of the people that is very frustrated so I share their frustration and I’m sorry people had difficulties with that,” Gov. Larry Hogan said.

Since its launch, more than 179,000 accounts have been activated.

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“These days, our office is servicing more claimants than ever before,” Suggs said.

Suggs participated in a call on Tuesday hosted by AFSCME, a union representing public employees.

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“In the wake of COVID-19, we see how this process has clearly hurt public servants,” Suggs said.

He described an office short-staffed after states made cost-saving cuts to public services.

“We can’t be short-staffed when communities are counting on us,” He said.

Suggs said the system is flawed.

“We are facing an unemployment insurance system that is riddled with red-tape,” Suggs said.

He shares the story of one man crying to him on a call.

“A gentleman who tearfully described how he and his wife no longer have money to buy food for their four children. He shared this with me as I explained to him that after filing for six weeks and he finally got someone on the phone that he is ineligible for unemployment based on a technicality,” Suggs said. “By the end of the call, I was in tears as well.”

Suggs said people calling in oftentimes wait five hours just to speak to him. WJZ reached out to the Department of Labor for a response based on Sugg’s concerns and have not heard back yet.

The state released a step-by-step guide on how to file for unemployment. Click here to read that. 

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Annie Rose Ramos