New Yorkers struggle to file for unemployment with overwhelmed system

Coronavirus
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BROOKLYN — Staggering new unemployment numbers are emphasizing the economic toll the COVID-19 pandemic is talking on people, including in the tri-state area.

The numbers will also likely continue to rise with widespread reports of people not even being able to file unemployment claims due to overloaded state systems.

In New York, 600,000 unemployment claims have been processed since March 9, with another 210,000 pending.

There were 6.6 million unemployment claims last week across the country.

Combined with the more than 10 million from the weeks before, there have been at least 16.7 million claims during the pandemic nationally.

However, the real story continues to be all those who have not been able to get through to file in the first place, due to significantly higher than normal volume.

New York state said Thursday the biggest issue has been people leaving lines blank on their forms or not having all their information.

“If you leave any fields blank, it says call,” explained the Secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo Melissa DeRosa. ”So you call then it causes a crash in volume, and then the system goes down.”

DeRosa said from 5pm-7pm Thursday the NY claims site will be down to put up a new, streamlined digital application using Google-based technology.

“If there’s any info that’s blank, it’ll say don’t call us, we’ll call you in 72 hours,” DeRosa said. “So people don’t have to go through this infuriating process of calling, getting busy signals and collapsing the system.”

New York is also now sending those $600 bonus unemployment checks each week approved by Congress two weeks ago. The state is also promising that all benefits will be backdated for those struggling to file. New Jersey, which is facing similar challenges, is making a similar promise.

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