February 7, 2000             No: 00-33 

Contact: Chuck_Blankenship        Phone:  907.465.2712

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Survey Shows Service for Unemployed is First-Rate

Government services for the unemployed are getting high marks according to a December 1999 survey conducted by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Nine in ten unemployment benefit recipients rate the overall quality of service they receive from the department as "very good" or "good."

"Our service rates are up there, better than a lot of other states," said Ed Flanagan, Commissioner of the Department. "The nearly 95 percent overall satisfaction rate clearly shows the public is pleased with what we're doing."

Administered by the Employment Security Division and funded by tax dollars contributed by both employers and employees, the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program pays out about $119 million in benefits to over 50,000 temporarily unemployed workers every year.

The UI system was automated in 1997 to replace in-person and file-by-mail benefit processing with a paperless, toll-free number, seven days a week. A direct deposit option is also available allowing recipients to have their benefits automatically deposited into their checking or savings account within 24 hours of settlement. According to the survey, 93 percent of direct deposit users said this service was "very good" or "good."

In addition, over 80 percent of those answering the phone survey said the waiting time to speak to a customer service representative at UI Call Centers was "very good" or "good."

Alaska's UI program conducts customer surveys twice a year and uses the results to guide improvements. The December survey indicated a higher interest than previous surveys in using the Internet for filing UI claims, an option the agency is now planning for the future. Although the survey produced good results overall, there were some recommendations for improvement, including shortening the waiting time it takes to speak to a customer service representative, and making the telephone script more user-friendly. To ease waiting times, the agency recently installed phone-monitoring software that re-routes the phone lines in all three UI Call Centers. Customer service improvement training is also actively underway for all the UI program staff.

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