For anyone who has tried calling the New Jersey Department of Labor for help with an unemployment claim this will come as little no surprise: New Jersey has the worst customer service.

That's according to a new study released by researchers at the University of Chicago. They spend months placing thousands of calls to help lines in every state. They called for help with unemployment benefits, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, income tax returns and Medicaid. If they were placed on hold, they waited 45 minutes, then hung up.

In New Jersey, they reached a live person less than 20% of the time.

While they did not specifically break out which agencies they had an easier time reaching, researchers wrote, "States where a live representative was more likely to be reached when looking for help with a UI application were the same states where a live representative was more likely to be reached for other government services.”

Issues reaching the Department of Labor in New Jersey have been well documented. As the state shut down during the pandemic, over 200,000 new claims for unemployment were being filed each week.

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The state paid a private contractor over $11 million to open a new call center in June, but problems reaching a live person persist.

While many routine matters can be handled on-line, University of Chicago researchers noted there was no correlation between bad phone service and a better website, writing, “We do not find evidence that states compensated for lack of live phone representatives by having better websites or online chat features.”

The website MarketWatch.com reports the Department of Labor and Governor Phil Murphy's Office did not comment on the report.

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