The number of people filing unemployment claims has nearly quintupled in New York as businesses shutter across the state and country in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The state Labor Department said late yesterday that New York’s initial unemployment insurance claims filed last week, the first week impacted by the outbreak, rose over the past year by 520 percent. Overall, more than 80,500 claims were filed last week.
…Typically, the department handles about 10,000 calls a day. Ironically, the labor department, which is filling the financial void for laid off workers, is adding 65 people to its call center to handle the unprecedented number of unemployment inquiries.
Though thousands of people have filed for benefits, a number of New Yorkers report they are having trouble navigating the website and phone lines to apply for unemployment.
The state Department of Labor has a new filing system based on the first letter of your last name. People with a last name that begins with A-F should file for benefits on Mondays. G-N will file on Tuesday. O-Z on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a message for the thousands of New Yorkers who are now unemployed: You are not alone.
“This has nothing to do with you, it’s the circumstance that we are in and we must correct it,” he said. “There is a strength in the fact that it’s all of us.”
Also, the governor again wondered aloud whether shutting down almost all businesses and largely confining New Yorkers to their homes was a good idea, given the toll that it has taken on the economy and the fact that the virus is still spreading.
“We closed everything down. That was our public health strategy,”said Cuomoduring an Albany press briefing. “If you re-thought that or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don’t know that you would say ‘Quarantine everyone.'”