New Yorkers facing layoffs, illness and quarantine amid the coronavirus outbreak are flooding the New York State Department of Labor website and phone lines in unprecedented numbers.
On Thursday, the department told NBC 4 that its website was averaging 250,000 logins per day, an increase of 400 percent from the usual average. The state has waived the 7-Day waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits for people who are out of work due to COVID-19 closures or quarantines.
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In New Jersey, the labor department was also seeing a spike in unemployment claims. While it did not have data for this week, New Jersey saw a 20.6 percent increase in initial unemployment claims for the week ending March 14 over the same week in 2019, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics.
On Monday, many New Yorkers trying to apply for unemployment insurance benefits complained on social media that the site was slow, or had crashed completely. The department said the traffic to the site on that day was "comparable to post-9/11" but assured people that they would get their benefits in a timely manner.
"We’re seeing over a 1000 percent increase in claims in some areas across the State," the department said. Its phone lines were also slammed, with its call center getting more than 75,000 calls on Tuesday.
To deal with the increase in volume, the department has added server capacity, and dedicated more than 700 staff members to address the influx.