The New York State Labor Department fielded more than 1.7 million calls and had more than 2.2 million visits to its website last week as New Yorkers scrambled to apply for unemployment insurance amid mass closures and job losses.
Last week, New Yorkers received stricter directives each day from the state on what businesses should stay open and which should close. At the end of the week, the order for all non-essential businesses to close was finally handed down.
The ongoing closures have forced a mass of newly unemployed New Yorkers to flood the NYS Labor Department to apply for unemployment insurance. The state has agreed to waive the 7-Day waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits for people who are out of work due to COVID-19 closures or quarantines.
"By the end of the day Thursday, we received 532,000+ site visits from New Yorkers filing UI claims. On Friday, we received 475,000+ calls," the department said in an email. It said it was seeing more than a 1,000 percent increase in claims in some areas across the state.
The unprecedented rush on the site has at times crashed the system. As a result the Labor Department has added server capacity, increased bandwidth, extended its phone hours and dedicated more than 700 staff members and hired 65 more to "address the influx."