NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Labor departments in the Tri-State Area are struggling to keep up with demand in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
This week, some communities are seeing a 1,000% increase in claims, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported Tuesday.
Amin Taziny recently spent hours on hold with unemployment services — not for himself, but to help his immigrant mother, a hair stylist in Brooklyn who has been out of work ever since non-essential services were closed.
“I had a lot of problems just getting through on the website. The session timed out. There’s about 10 pages in the process. Whenever it happened, I had to start all over again,” Taziny said.
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Duddridge reached out to the New York State Department of Labor. Last week alone it received a staggering numbers of calls — more than 1.7 million.
The department said it usually receives around 10,000 calls per day. Now it is averaging around 75,000.
There has been even more traffic on the internet, last week 2.2 million attempts.
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Sam Jossen said he tried to get on the website, but it kept crashing. He has been out of work ever since the two Manhattan restaurants he worked at closed.
“It doesn’t make much sense and the phone is not helpful. You can’t talk to a person,” Jossen said. “All robots. You answer all their questions; you do everything. At the end it will say there’s nothing for you here, and then they’ll just hang up.”
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To try and get through the backlog, New York City’s Department of Labor said it has added 700 new staff members and put in a place a new name system: If your last name starts with A-F, you file on Mondays, G-N files on Tuesdays, and O-Z on Wednesday. If you missed your slot, call Thursday or Friday.
After trying for days, both Taziny and Jossen eventually got through. However, in New Jersey, Jaime Shanahan, the owner of a massage therapy clinic in Westwood, said she has tried all week, but she got an error message saying, “Unfortunately, we are unable to create your account at this time.”
“I know they’re overwhelmed. I appreciate the workers. I appreciate the system. You’d expect there to be an influx. However, once you’ve used that website, some sort of answer of hope, yes you have applied,” Shanahan said.
The New Jersey Department of Labor said it is getting tens of thousands of calls. To keep up, it has added hundreds of staff, many working overtime to process claims.
Claims that when finally approved will be backdated so no one loses benefits.