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Washington’s unemployment-benefits website crashes after launch

(File, Associated Press)

Washington state’s new unemployment-benefits website barely got off the ground before it crashed on Tuesday.

Users reported receiving an error page when they tried to enter their information. Then, callers overwhelmed two toll-free phone numbers, which led to busy signals and dropped calls.

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Tammy Baughman told KIRO 7 she can’t understand why the launch was so sloppy.

“Had they bothered to give an ample notification — say, the first of November — that this week was going to be late in filing, personally, I would have budgeted over those two months and made damn sure that I had an extra $500 in my checking account.”

Agents took applications and claims over the phone yesterday for about 17,000 people.

In an alert on the Employment Security Department’s website, it was noted that weekly benefit payments would be delayed “both because of the holiday and the new system.”

The State Employment Security Department says it’s since fixed the problem and more than 1,500 people logged into the service yesterday afternoon and evening, KIRO Radio reports.

According to The Seattle Times, the new system has an estimated cost of approximately $28 million.

The website was designed to improve security and add more self-service options. The idea is to give users the ability to apply for benefits and submit online claims.

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