Surge of unemployment claims crashed New York's system, Cuomo says

Surge of unemployment claims crashed New York's system, Cuomo says
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New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Hochul gets early boost as NY gubernatorial race takes shape EMILY's List announces early endorsement of Hochul MORE (D) said Tuesday that a surge in applicants had “collapsed” the state’s unemployment website during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo said during a press conference that the state currently has 1,000 staffers processing new claims online and through the state phone system in response to the record number of New Yorkers out of work as a result of nonessential businesses being shuttered.

“It’s unbelievable,” Cuomo said, according to CNBC. “One thousand people just to take the incoming unemployment calls. That’s how high the volume is and they still can’t keep up with the volume.”

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The state has paid about $2.2 billion in unemployment claims to 1.1 million people over the course of the outbreak and while a backlog of 4,305 phone applications remains, that represents a significant reduction from the 275,000 figure from before April 8, according to the state.

“[T]here’s nothing worse than being unemployed and nervous about a paycheck and you call for unemployment benefits and you can’t get through on the phone,” Cuomo said Tuesday. “I get it. I get it. And we have 1,000 people working on it. We have Google working on it. And we have all these experts working on it. They are trying to bring up a system that did a much, much lower capacity.”

At least 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance over the past four weeks as the pandemic leads to business closures nationwide. In early April, Florida saw similar issues with its unemployment site, leading to scenes of hundreds of applicants lining up for paper applications in Hialeah, north of Miami, despite social distancing recommendations.