New York state officials are revamping and rebooting the website for unemployment-insurance applications on Thursday in their latest bid to handle the flood of coronavirus-related benefit applications that have overwhelmed the system.
The Department of Labor will shut down its online application portal at 5 p.m. and plans to reopen it with a new, “streamlined” version two hours later, officials said.
Laid-off workers will also no longer be required to call in to complete the application process, but will instead get called back within 72 hours, officials said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the lockdown of “non-essential” businesses he ordered March 20 had resulted in about a “100-fold” surge in unemployment filings, “crashing the system.”
He also said the state was employing 1,000 people to process applications.
“That is like the number we used to get of applicants,” Cuomo said during his daily news conference in Albany.
Before the COVID-19 crisis, the DOL had about 400 people handling jobless filings, according to Cuomo’s office.
A top Cuomo aide, Melissa DeRosa, said the state was “working with Google” on the new website.
“It’s streamlined, there are fewer questions and once you get to the end of that, you successfully fill it out, it’s going to say ‘You are finished with the application process,’” she said.
“If there is any information that is left blank, it is going to say ‘Don’t call us, we will call you within 72 hours.’”
DeRosa said the state had processed about 600,000 unemployment filings since March 9, with another 200,000 pending.
It’s unclear how many additional laid-off workers have been unable to file due to the system’s failure.
Nearly 17 million Americans have been applied for unemployment benefits over the past three weeks, according to data released Thursday by the US Department of Labor.