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TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011, 9:50 A.M.

State robocalls urge jobless to use WorkSource

The 50,000  unemployed Washington workers no longer receiving benefits are getting robocall reminders that free help with job searches is available at WorkSource offices.

The Washington Employment Security Department today said the 30-second calls are a cost-effective way of reaching those who have been without work for more than 99 weeks, as well as the 3,000 more who lose their benefits each month.

Spokesman Bill Tarrow said the department does not have the staff to make that many calls.

A 2009 department study showed WorkSource clients returned to work sooner, and with better pay, than workers who did not use the service.

ESD will also begin calling unemployed workers in Whatcom and Skagit county with fewer than 20 weeks of benefits left.

Tarrow said the department hopes to get those workers back on the job before they run out of benefits. If effective, the program will be expanded, he said.

"If someone has been unemployed for more than a year, there propbably are barriers that the individual can't overcome alone," said C.J. Seitz, the ESD area director for northwest Washington.

"WorkSource staff can provide job-search expertise and a positive outlook that can make all the difference," he said.

Last year, the state paid $4.6 billion in benefits to more than 500,000 jobless workers.

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Bert Caldwell
Bert Caldwell oversees production of the opinion pages, including writing editorials, and editing and selecting letters, columns and cartoons.