By: KDKA-TV News Staff

HARRISBURG (KDKA) – The Department of Labor and Industry is hiring hundreds of new customer service representatives to help with unemployment calls.

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Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier announced Wednesday that at least 500 employees will be added to the unemployment compensation call center and says experienced existing employees will transition to revolving claims full time.

They also want to hire 50 to 100 new customer service team leaders.

“Our goal is to have every call answered,” said Berrier. “I hear your concerns, I care about them and I will continue to do everything I can to improve the way we serve you. The customer service initiative is just one of several projects that we have in the works right now.”

They’ll also implement a customer service tracking portal that will make a ticket to keep track of ongoing unemployment claim work and to let claimants know their place in line.

The department expects the initial round of new staff to be hired by June and they’re preparing to hire up to 1,000 total new employees.

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Many Pennsylvanians claim that it has been difficult to reach the state’s customer service representatives and sometimes they don’t hear back after filing a claim.

“Any kind of customer service right now is kind of nonexistent and we’re hoping that can be improved,” said Larisa Mednis, the advocacy organizer for the Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Aid Group.

The Mon Valley Unemployed Committee and Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Aid group rallied at Gov. Tom Wolf’s regional office downtown Wednesday to demand improvements to the unemployment compensation system. They say this helps but it’s not enough.

“We are hoping they will hire about 2,000 additional staff,” Mednis said.

Mednis said she was laid off from her restaurant job last March. Many of her co-workers in the restaurant industry have experienced issues when filing a claim.

“The big problem is nobody gets back to people. We’re hoping by hiring more staff members, there will be more of a response,” said Mednis.

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The first round will be hired by the end of May or June. You can apply by contacting your local PA CareerLink office.