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Unemployment office may become call center

Ironton’s unemployment office will likely become a call center under an Ohio plan to gradually close all local offices statewide.

Tuesday, February 06, 2001

Ironton’s unemployment office will likely become a call center under an Ohio plan to gradually close all local offices statewide.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services announced Friday that the state department would reorganize to more efficiently deliver services at the local level.

"Declining federal funding, the realities of a tight budget and the demands of taxpayers to operate with maximum efficiency dictate that we cannot continue to do business the way we used to," said Jacqueline Romer-Sensky, ODJFS director.

Like a dozen other states, Ohio will move to an all-telephone unemployment registration process. The plan means the state’s 56 unemployment offices will gradually make way for 21 Telephone Registration Centers over the next 15 months, she said.

Most of the staff from the local offices will move into the phone call centers, state officials said.

Ironton’s unemployment office is part of the Workforce Development Resource Center’s One Stop Center on Second Street.

The state called the reorganization necessary because processing claims by telephone is 56 percent less expensive than in-person applications.

When word of the state’s reorganization plan for local unemployment offices first surfaced, Lawrence County Department of Job and Family Services director Buddy Martin wrote state officials a letter urging them to approve the Ironton office as a registration center.

"I wanted to plead our case to be a call center because of the One Stop and its partnership with the office," said Martin, who oversees the Workforce Development Resource Center’s One Stop Center on Second Street in Ironton.

The unemployment office shares space with JTPA, school job training programs and other agencies – all coming together to help the unemployed.

"More than likely, nobody will be leaving," Martin said, referring to the state making Ironton a call center. "In fact, we may end up gaining some jobs."

A call center would employ more than the 10 to 11 employees who currently staff the unemployment office, he said.