Connecticut residents looking to open or re-establish initial unemployment insurance claims can now do so online.
The state Department of Labor launched FileCTUI.com in late June and last week more than half — 55 percent — of those filing new or reopened claims did so via the site, according to department spokeswoman Nancy Steffens.
More than 14,000 people have used the website since it launched just over a month ago, she said.
Previously, those opening first-time unemployment insurance claims had to do so by phone with a customer service representative, though they could then file weekly, continued claims online.
“Anyone with an email address can file a new claim or re-open an existing claim by using a computer instead of the phone,” Labor Commissioner Scott D. Jackson said in a statement. “In addition, fewer calls allow our customer service representatives to devote more time to helping those with complicated claims or for resolving concerns.”
The online option will let residents avoid waiting on the phone, he added, especially during high-volume periods. During peak times, he added, claimants were waiting an average of more than two hours for assistance by phone.
More than 2,000 claimants used the site in its first week of operation alone, according to Jackson.
To use the online system, claimants visit the site and click on “File Your Unemployment Claim.” Those who want to file a weekly claim or inquire about an existing claim should click “Manage Your Unemployment Claim.”
The site is available in English and Spanish and can be accessed on computers, tablets, and smartphones.
“While first-time filers are still welcome to use the TeleBenefits phone system, we urge them to try our new online system that offers 24/7 access,” Jackson said.
Most people using the site have had no issues, Steffens said. About 4 percent of claims filed online have been incomplete, meaning the filer has had to speak with a customer service representative, she said.
The new system is part of broader Labor Department efforts to streamline services and become more efficient, he said. The department is one of several states working jointly to develop new technologies to update claims-taking systems.
The Labor Department itself has been downsized. In 2015, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration laid off 95 workers, but was eventually able to find work for 22 of those who were laid off.
Union officials at the time said even if they were able to find work for 22 workers the public using the now consolidated services would still suffer.
The Labor Department was spared in the latest round of layoffs where 825 state employees received pink slips.