NEW YORK (TIP): From a record number of employments to a record-breaking number of unemployment, the US is facing a grim situation with joblessness. The total number of Americans filing for unemployment shot up to over 26 million, with the addition of l 4.4 million Americans who filed for unemployment last week since the coronavirus pandemic shut down swaths of the US and brought its economy to a standstill.
The latest Department of Labor figures show the pace of layoffs appears to have slowed slightly but a backlog of claims mean millions more are likely to file in the coming weeks. States across the country are encountering problems with the sheer number of people applying for unemployment benefits.
In New York, laid off workers still struggle to file for unemployment and wait to receive benefits. Between the weeks ending March 14th and April 11th, 1.2 million New Yorkers have filed unemployment claims—a number far greater than the 300,000 who submitted unemployment claims during the 2008 financial crisis.
New York’s Department of Labor has struggled under the burden of incoming unemployment claims since Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order shutting down non-essential businesses took effect. The DOL has added 2,700 workers to process unemployment applications, expanded the hours jobless individuals can file claims, and sent $2.2 billion to 1.1 million unemployed New Yorkers.
As calls overwhelmed phone lines and cascading web traffic caused the DOL website to repeatedly crash, Cuomo announced that the state had retained assistance from Google, Deloitte, and Verizon to speed up claims processing with a “Tech Surge.”
Yet despite those fixes, many New Yorkers said they remain unable to complete an unemployment application.
In Florida, the widespread collapse of its already flawed benefits system, just 14.2% of the more than 668,000 claims filed since 15 March have been paid. In Ohio, claimants now have to file on a specific day of the week, depending on the first letter of their last name, to ease congestion. Washington residents are complaining that the state’s website crashes or takes hours to respond. Elsewhere, too, people have complained that they cannot access the website to file their unemployment claims.
Delays in processing applications have boosted the weekly totals in recent weeks but economists believe the unprecedented wave of claims is near its peak.
However, there seems to be no respite for Americans facing, probably, the most challenging economic conditions in recent history of the nation.
(With inputs from agencies and Labor department)