Coronavirus

NY Launches New Unemployment Site That Won’t Require Phone Call, 200K NYers Still in Limbo

The new system will not require applicants to phone the department, instead a call center worker will phone you -- within 72 hours

NBC Universal, Inc.

Update April 14: NBC 4 has received your questions and concerns and is waiting to hear answers back from the labor department. In the meantime, the department says if you missed your call, you don't not need to call back. The labor department will phone you again.

Note: The labor department says anyone who has already filed an application and was told to call back to complete their claim does not have to call back or file again. It tells NBC 4 those people should hear from a rep. within 72 hours.

New York launched a new unemployment application website at 7 p.m. Thursday, after thousands of New Yorkers called for urgent changes to the application process -- many saying they are now in a desperate financial situation after calling the department for weeks.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday afternoon that the new unemployment application system, launched in partnership with Google, would not require filers to phone the Department of Labor after applying. Instead, one of 1,000 call center staff will call the applicant within 72 hours.

Cuomo said the important thing was that everyone would get their full entitlement, eventually. "It’s not like you’re not going to get the same benefit just because you didn't get through on Monday and you get through on Thursday," he said.

Let us know know if the new system is working for you. Email jessyedwards@me.com with your story.

The major issue with the New York State Department of Labor unemployment application process has been that, after filing for unemployment online, many applicants were then required to phone the department to verify their details. However the department wasn't prepared for the volume of calls, meaning thousands have been unable to get through.

The state said Thursday it had received 350,000 unemployment claims in the last week, and 810,000 claims since March 9. Of those claims, 600,000 have been processed, with more than 200,000 claims still in limbo.

New Yorkers who have been trying to apply for benefits for weeks are now running out of money for basics like food and rent. We profiled two who are facing this head on, one who estimated he'd called more than 2,000 times in the last two weeks. As of Wednesday, neither had reached a person who could help.

On Thursday evening, the New York State Department of Labor website went dark from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. as the update was made to the site. The state said that while the system migrates, applications will be accepted beginning at 7:30 a.m. Friday. New applications on the updated site will show as complete, and applicants will then wait for a call. The department also this week updated its number of call center staff, and said it now has 1,000 people available to call back unemployment filers.

The labor department tells NBC 4 that anyone who is in the process of filing an application and was told to call back to complete their claim will not have to call back. It said those people should hear from a representative within 72 hours -- so by 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, New York announced unemployment benefits will be extended 13 weeks, from 26 to 39 weeks. Plus an immediate additional $600 will be given to unemployment filers.

Meanwhile, first-time claims for unemployment hit 6.6 million again last week, after 6.6 million the week prior and 3.3 million the week before that. (Prior to the pandemic, weekly first-time unemployment claims had never topped 700,000 in U.S. history.)

Some economists believe the U.S. unemployment rate, which was just 3.5 percent prior to the crisis, is now well more than 13 percent.

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