Houston man urges Texans to treat unemployment calls like merging onto the freeway

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In order to get more people in Texas help on the phone, a Houston man said those calling the unemployment office should treat it like driving on the freeway.

Garry Vasquez told ABC13 Texas Workforce Commission said he needs to call and apply for unemployment, but he can't get anyone on the phone.

"I tried to call them over 500 times in five hours," Vasquez recalled. "Nothing."

Vasquez believes the key to solving the problem is the way Texans handle the freeway.

"Treat it like you're merging onto the interstate," Vasquez explained. "One car at a time."

Vasquez is talking about using Texas Workforce Commission's recommended call times. It was released by the agency last week.

To ease congestion, people are recommended to call on certain days and times based on their area code.

In case you forgot, here's what it is: If your area code starts with two, your days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Area codes starting with three, four, five and six are asked to call Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. If your area code starts with seven, and eight, you can call Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. until noon. And with area codes starting with nine, it's Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:00 a.m. until noon.

Erika Brown has been calling for three weeks. Each passing day is starting to add up.

"Helpless, hopeless," Brown explained. "It's a struggle, and I'm worried that if I don't get through by a certain time, the funds won't be available."

Texas Workforce Commission is making improvements each day to help Texans. There's a chat feature on its website that answers 40 questions.

On Monday, 350 more people will be answering calls.

Brown hopes the change will finally allow her to break through the dial tone.

"It's gut-wrenching, every day," Brown said. "Waking up every single day knowing you're going to get the same thing, the same results every day."

You might have noticed the recommended calls days are Monday through Saturday, but that was before the agency extended hours.

Right now, TWC is answering calls seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

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