It's a new year, but the same problems still plague the state's new $63 million unemployment website, preventing many Floridians from receiving their benefit checks.

Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity said late Thursday that it is doubling its staff to handle questions and problems with its flawed online unemployment filing system Connect.

DEO said it will hire 100 workers this month, another 100 in February and 50 in March. The state agency currently has 250 "adjudicators."

Many of the state's unemployed complain that technical errors have prevented or delayed payment of their benefits.

"We have focused on this area because we know it will do the most to expedite payments to people who have been waiting the longest," said Jesse Panuccio, executive director, in Thursday's update on the $63 million Connect system launched in mid-October.


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DEO recently withheld $3 million in payments to developer Deloitte Consulting and said Dec. 23 would fine the company $15,000 each business day the system wasn't fixed.

Valory Greenfield, a lawyer who represents South Florida's unemployed through Florida Legal Services, said she would like to see DEO set up a process for these workers to present their circumstances to fair hearing officers.

"Fines don't really do anything for eligible claimants who are getting evicted or having their cars repossessed," she said.

DEO said call centers remain open for extended hours, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.