TRENTON – The state labor department has started scheduling in-person appointments that will begin being held Monday to help people having trouble with their unemployment claims.

The appointments will be conducted at 12 of the state’s One-Stop Career Center locations. No walk-ins will be served.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development has long resisted calls for in-person help for people dealing with unemployment claim problems, insisting that people can be served more efficiently online or over the phone.

There isn’t a phone number to call to request an appointment at this time. The state is scheduling appointments after prescreening claims and identifying workers most likely to be helped by an in-person appointment.

The state says claimants with in-person appointments may be referred to unemployment staff with specialized training in their particular issues. It says they will leave the appointment with a resolution in hand or concrete next steps to getting their claim resolved.

After the appointment, they are urged to check their email, answer their phone and check their claim status in the following days.

Claimants who have a pending hearing can be assisted only after their scheduled hearing date.

The labor department said it urges everyone with a scheduled appointment to keep that appointment and those without appointments to call its call center for additional support. It says the call center takes calls seven days a week, has a call-back feature and currently has an average wait time of 3 to 5 minutes.

According to the labor department’s website, the call center can be reached at 201-601-4100 in North Jersey, 732-761-2020 in Central Jersey and 856-507-2340 in South Jersey. People calling from an out-of-state area code can dial 888-795-6672.

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The state says its contract call center has fielded 3.5 million calls since opening in June 2020.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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