CHICAGO (CBS) — A suburban man is one of thousands waiting to hear back from the Illinois Department of Employment Services, and he says he has now been laid off not once but twice.

CBS 2 is Working for Chicago to navigate the landmines of the unemployment mess caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Michael Mastrocesare said he now has double trouble dealing with the state.

“Why is it so difficult?” he said. “I know they’re overwhelmed, but…”

He was a caterer before the pandemic and is no stranger to IDES.

“The first time I got laid off it was seamless,” he said. “The second time I went six, maybe seven weeks without hearing anything.

He went back to work for two weeks in January before he was laid off again. That is when things got complicated. When he tried to file for unemployment the second time, he got a letter at the beginning of February saying because he made more money in those two weeks than the amount he got for unemployment, he would have to refile.

He did just that and got an error message.

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“Ever since then I have not received anything by mail,” he said.

He has been waiting by the phone.

“It’s been what, 21 days?” he said.

He said if he did not have people to lean on he does not know what he would do.

“I feel like I’ve just been left out in the cold,” he said. “Frustrated, angry, broke.”

Mastrocesare said regardless of the resolution he just wants some clarity.

He is one of many. CBS 2 reached out to IDES on what is the holdup. They had not yet responded at 6 p.m. Friday.

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Part of the problem is the department’s gargantuan callback queue. Friday more than 70,000 were waiting for their phones to ring. On April 5, 18 days ago, that number was 78,000, which shows how slow the progress is. The biggest culprit is 32,000 still waiting for a call about certification.