Coronavirus-related layoffs are leading to jammed phone lines and crashed websites at unemployment offices from coast to coast.
So many are calling, clicking, but not getting through. The latest grim statistics from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics — showing that nearly 3.3 million are unemployed — likely reflect just a fraction of who’s been laid off.
Nowhere is the disparity between who’s really unemployed, and who managed to sign up for benefits, bigger than in New York, where the state Labor Department reports 1,734,000 people called their unemployment phone line in the week ending Saturday, March 21.
The state’s unemployment website, meanwhile, was accessed 2,270 million times.
But those numbers were not reflected in the federal stats on how many Americans actually signed up for benefits: of all the millions of people dialing in and logging on, only 80,334 New Yorkers applied last week for benefits.
For many, trying to get through is their new, replacement job.
“I try every f—ing day — quote me,” said laid-off arborist Robert Shapiro, 63, of the West Village. “When I call, it tells me I have completed my application.
“Then it says hold for an agent. Then it says no agents are available, call back tomorrow. And then click. It doesn’t give you any information, any place to go. Every single day. I call different times of day, no difference. Online it’s the same thing. It just crashes.”
Have no fear, say state labor officials — they know the problem exists, they’re working on it with added staff and server capacity, and your application will be processed, eventually, with no loss of benefits for the time lag.
They suggest applicants try what a rep called “a new, more efficient filing system based on the first letter of the applicant’s last name.”
A-F? Call Monday.
G-N? Call Tuesday.
O-Z? Call Wednesday.
Missed your day? Call Thursday and Friday.
The number to call remains (888)581-5812; the website is applicationslabor.ny.gov.
“Our team is literally working around the clock to make sure that all New Yorkers get their benefits,” a state labor rep said Thursday.
“Our dedicated representatives are doing the best they can to make sure everyone is served, as quickly as possible, even if it takes a longer than usual.”
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