The governor of Connecticut has said that unemployment checks will be delayed at least five weeks, adding to the woes of laid off workers struggling to pay bills in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Ned Lamont said on Tuesday that Connecticut Department of Labor staff were being overwhelmed by processing applications while working remotely on outdated computer systems.
‘I’m sad to report that there’s a five-week lag time,’ Lamont said at a press conference. ‘Everything is retroactive, so even if it’s slow for us to get it back to you — it’s not that our heart’s not there, it’s because the technology is 40 years old. And we’re loading in more (staff) every day to help catch up with that backlog.’
Lamont said the labor department was in the midst of updating the antiquated mainframe used to process claims, but that the update would not be complete for at least a year.
Governor Ned Lamont said on Tuesday that Connecticut Department of Labor staff were being overwhelmed by processing applications while working remotely
Unemployment claims shattered historical records last week with 3.3 million filings
Connecticut now has more than 3,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus and about 85 deaths.
Like other states, Connecticutd has seen unemployment claims soar to historic levels in recent weeks, as mandatory shutdowns close many non-essential businesses to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Last week, new unemployment claims soared to 3.3 million nationwide, and millions more are expected to file this week.
In New York, the epicenter of the outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that the state normally processes about 50,000 claims a week, but that on Monday the state’s Department of Labor had received 1.2 million claims.
Yet many New Yorkers who have been out of work for several weeks say they are still unable to file unemployment claims due to crashed websites and flooded call lines.
‘We can’t get thru to FILE A CLAIM’ tweeted one New York resident on Tuesday. ‘System Overload. Continues to freeze up & crash. Restricted days/hours. We realize this is an unprecedented crisis but it must be fixed ASAP.’
‘NYS Unemployment completely down,’ another wrote with a screen shot of an error message on the New York Department of Labor website. ‘Good luck getting paid.’
As recently as Tuesday, unemployed New Yorkers were still unable to file claims
In response to the unprecedented claim volume, New York has instituted restrictions on which days people can apply based on the first letters of their last names — but laid off workers still say it is impossible to file.
A spokeswoman for the New York Department of Labor told DailyMail.com that the department had dedicated 700 staff members to the state’s unemployment insurance hotline, and was currently training hundreds more.
‘We have added over 20 additional servers to support the website’s capacity,’ spokeswoman Deanna Cohen said in a statement. ‘We will continue to double down on all of these efforts to serve every New Yorker who is filing for unemployment insurance.’
People who are delayed in their ability to file claims will still receive the full amount of benefits they qualify for, Cohen said.
The department said that between March 23rd, and March 28th, the phone system recorded over 8.2 million calls, compared to just 50,000 in a typical week.
New York state now has more than 83,000 confirmed cases and 1,900 deaths in the outbreak.
More than quarter of Americans say they have lost wages and about 16 percent already have been furloughed or laid off, according to a Grinnell College poll released Wednesday.
The survey polled 1,009 adults from March 27 to 30 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Retailers including Macy’s, the Gap, JCPenney, and Neiman Marcus, as well as mall owner Simon Properties, among others from the private sector are enacting furloughs because of the outbreak.
Companies like iHeart Media representing 800 stations, outdoor recreational craft maker Polaris, hospital operators and large law firms also are sending employees home.
The total number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits is being forecast to set a record for the second straight week following last week’s record 3.28, with the darkest prediction expecting the figure to almost double.
The next release of unemployment data tomorrow will report for the week ending March 28.
The unemployment data should show how the virus and the sudden economic measures implemented to slow and contain outbreak have impacted the labor market.
The median projection from economists who were surveyed by Bloomberg puts the figure at 3.5 million, slightly above last week’s reading of 3.28 million, which was already more than quadruple the previous record.