Ms. Keohane, who lost her waitressing job in Rochester, N.Y., has been waiting a month to receive $2,124 in unemployment payments as a direct deposit into her bank account.

But the state instead told her that the money had been deposited on a state-issued debit card, which she never received. She cannot get anyone on the phone to find out where it is.

“I call the Department of Labor every single day, and I know the options by heart now,” said Ms. Keohane, 31, whose checking account was down to $10.35. “It would be OK if I just knew where the money was.”