By CBS3 Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The number of Americans seeking initial unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to 900,000, but that is still a historically high level that points to ongoing job cuts amid the pandemic. The Labor Department said 5.1 million Americans are continuing to receive state jobless benefits, down from 5.2 million the previous week.

Eyewitness News is continuing to push for answers for so many Pennsylvanians waiting for delayed unemployment checks. It’s a story we first brought you this weekend and since then, so many of you have continued to reach out for help.

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“I can’t tell you how demoralizing it is to call literally hundreds of times in a row and just hear the same busy signal over and over and over again,” Emma Kobolakis said.

Kobolakis has been calling and waiting since June for what is now 17 weeks of unemployment claims. She says the problem started with a simple error with her name.

“On my birth certificate, I have much longer, much more Greek name that I don’t go by,” Kobolakis said.

It’s something she’s remedied.

“They now have my W2s, my birth certificate, my passport, anything that I can think of that has my identification on it, they have,” Kobolakis said.

Philadelphia Unemployment Project Director John Dobbs says Kobolakis’ story, and frustration, is common. Hundreds write to him every day.

“You make a mistake in this system, you could be out of benefits for months,” Dobbs said. “We’re hoping that things are going to change with the new administration, that we are going to get more help for people.”

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His team advocates for those out of work and encourages anyone struggling to visit Philaup.org for help. He also recommends waiting until late afternoon to call the state to try to get someone live and visiting the department’s Facebook page for updates.

“I have cried a lot during this process,” Kobolakis said.

Kobolakis, like so many, has drained her savings hoping with each day for relief to come.

“If I were to get the money now, I see as the lump sum I’m owed, the weights that would be lifted off of me, I can’t tell you,” Kobolakis said.

CBS3’s Alicia Roberts reports.

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