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On Sunday, the first day of a job fair held by Kohl's Department Store at the Hilton-Naples, Jeanette Vernotzy fills out an application while waiting to be called for an interview. Vernotzy was employed full time with Husky-Viking until she was laid off two months ago and is now on unemployment. 'I could paper a wall with all the applications I've filled out,' she said.

Photo by JENNIFER WHITNEY, Staff

On Sunday, the first day of a job fair held by Kohl's Department Store at the Hilton-Naples, Jeanette Vernotzy fills out an application while waiting to be called for an interview. Vernotzy was employed full time with Husky-Viking until she was laid off two months ago and is now on unemployment. "I could paper a wall with all the applications I've filled out," she said.

Now the jobless must find a computer to file for unemployment compensation.

Starting Monday, Floridians are required to file new claims and continued claims over the Internet.

“If I had to do it, no, I wouldn’t want to do everything online,” said Susan Beckman, a Fort Myers resident who was on unemployment from 2008 to 2010.

Beckman, 64, always dealt with her unemployment claims over the phone even though she had a computer in her house.

“It (a hard copy) is something I had right in my hand. It was easy to reference to, rather than going to the computer. I like talking to someone rather than a keyboard,” she said.

The complete switch to Internet filings will save $4.7 million annually in administrative costs, according to the State of Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation.

These changes also require claimants to send updates on their employment searches via the Internet. For people who do not own a computer or are not familiar with using one, these new requirements might prove challenging.

In many cases, it will be up to librarians to pick up the slack.

“It could take a while ... anywhere from

15 to 30 minutes just to get them on that site, to get them to be able to go from one page to the next,” said April Ristau, a reference librarian at Collier County's Headquarters branch.

Once the person is on the page, the librarian does not help him or her fill out the forms, which are private.

Electronic filings or applications are nothing new for the library. People apply for food stamps, jobs and come in to watch their “red-light runner” ticket at the library, said Marilyn Matthes, library director of Collier County Public Library.

There are 10 public libraries and 180 computers in Collier County, Matthes said.

People are allowed to use library computers with Internet for 30-minute increments.

They may use it for a maximum of 90-minutes per day, with some flexibility, said Gwyn Goodman, a reference librarian at Collier County's Headquarters branch.

The shift to all online unemployment claims might cause some hiccups in the beginning, but staff will make sure people know how to get to the forms, Ristau said.

The Lee County Library System is made up of 13 libraries with 429 computers. Most libraries have one-hour incremental time limits, but some of the smaller ones with fewer computers have 30-minute time limits.

Most Lee County libraries allow people to use the Internet on their computers for a total of two hours per day.

Manager of public services for Lee County Library System Marilyn Graham said she is not worried because the unemployment website is not new. The link is even on Lee County Library System’s website, she said.

“Our staff is pretty confident that it won’t present a difficulty,” Graham said. “People have told me this site is pretty intuitive.”

Even though Beckman wouldn’t want to file for unemployment online, she recognized having to go to the library could bring some benefits.

“If anybody doesn’t have a computer, they can go to the library and, while there, they could look for jobs online,” she said.

The Agency for Workforce Innovation will maintain a hotline, (800) 204-2418, in order to answer filing questions.

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