Local workers run into issues attempting to file for unemployment amid coronavirus crisis

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - It's an astonished number -- 139,468 Ohioans filed for unemployment between March 15-19.

To put that into perspective, 4,815 filed the week before that.

That unprecedented surge and record-level jobless claims have led to slow processing times, caused the website to crash, and a marathon wait on the phone for people trying to connect with The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Monday marked Bryan Linnenkugel's last day of work, for now.

Although he works in a critical trade -- construction -- his company is ceasing operations to best protect the community.

On Sunday, his boss gave him a "Mass Layoff Instruction Sheet" and ever since, Linnenkugel's been attempting to file for unemployment.

As of Tuesday afternoon, to no avail.

"I didn't realize that, you know, once I was laid off that re-dialing the same number all day long was going to be my next full-time job," he said.

Before dialing the toll free line, Linnenkugel has been trying to file his claim online. When he logs on to the unemployment.ohio.gov website, it asks him to reset his Personal Identification Number.

Linnenkugel insists he never created a PIN. According to the website, in order to reset your PIN you need to call.

The 1-877-644-6562 phone line said, "We are currently experiencing an exceptionally high call volume. Please try again at another time or if you have access to a computer visit unemployment.ohio.gov."

"I've been in this loop since, you know, and it's frustrating to say the least. I'm trying to maintain patience," said Linnenkugel.

This is time sensitive, adding even more stress.

His deadline to request unemployment benefits from the state is March 29.

"What do I do? Who do I talk to? You know, what is my next choice?" asked Linnenkugel.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services extended call center hours to try to keep up with the increased demand.

Those hours are from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday.

Now, the website is back up and running after crashing Monday, according to Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

"This system was not built for a crisis. It was built to take care of what we could expect on a regular basis or even a more robust basis, but what we've been experiencing now is frankly unprecedented," Lt. Gov. Husted said Monday.

"I think they could do more. I think it should be a 24-hour operation right now," said Linnenkugel.

Ultimately, Linnenkugel said he's trying to extend the benefit of the doubt and believes the state is doing the best it can.

Hours after our initial interview with Linnenkugel, he reached out to 13abc and said he was finally able to reset his PIN and file his claim.

The number he used to do so is 1-866-962-4064.

Also, Lt. Gov. Husted said the U.S. Department of Labor has asked the state to not release unemployment numbers daily. So now that statistic will be shared weekly on Thursdays.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says the best place to file a claim is on its website.