The New York State Department of Labor on Thursday night told the Business Journal that there were more than 80,500 initial unemployment insurance claims filed in the week ending March 21, up more than 520% from the comparable period last year.
The increase is due to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week was the first week to reflect claims due to the impact of business closings as part of the effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Initial claims for unemployment insurance increased by a minimum of 284% in each of New York’s 10 labor market regions.
From March 16 to March 21, the Labor Department received over 1,734,100 total calls and over 2,270,300 hits on its website.
The Labor Department said that it has taken a number of steps to address this unprecedented increase in call volume and web traffic, including implementing what it termed a new, more efficient filing system based on the first letter of the applicant’s last name.
People with last names beginning with A through F can file claims on Mondays. G through N filings are on Tuesdays. O through Z can file Wednesdays. People who miss their alphabetical filing day can file on Thursdays through Saturdays.
The Labor Department said it is dedicated to ensuring that every New Yorker who is entitled to unemployment insurance benefits will receive all benefits due.
Nationally, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that a total of 3.28 million people filed for unemployment insurance in the week that ended March 21. That compared with 211,000 filings just two weeks before.