The New York State Department of Labor today announced that it has distributed $3.1 billion in unemployment benefits to New Yorkers since the coronavirus pandemic started impacting New York businesses in early March. In total, more than 1.4 million New Yorkers have submitted completed applications for unemployment benefits since the crisis began, including traditional unemployment insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
"Every state is facing major challenges when it comes to unemployment, but in New York we are upgrading our systems in real time while delivering benefits to New Yorkers faster and more aggressively than any other state, "NYS Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said." I've been unemployed myself - I know that losing your job is one of the most trying situations someone can face - and while there is more work to do, we have connected over one million New Yorkers with billions of dollars in benefits in just six weeks. We will keep working around the clock seven days a week to ensure every single New Yorker gets every single dollar they deserve."
In addition, the Department of Labor has updated and streamlined the sections of its website most frequently used by New Yorkers seeking unemployment benefits. These updated pages -- which include the DOL homepage, an explanation of how to file your claim, information on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, and more -- are now mobile friendly and easier to read and navigate, which will help unemployed New Yorkers get the information they need faster so they can file for benefits.
Since nationwide coronavirus-related business shutdowns in early March, states across the country have faced an unprecedented increase in the number of people filing for unemployment insurance - with an extraordinary 26 million Americans now having submitted claims. Since March 9, New York State has processed 1.4 million initial applications for unemployment benefits, including 207,172 during the week ending April 18 and 399,015 the week before.
Between March 9 and April 22, New York State has distributed $3.1 billion to support New Yorkers who lost their jobs. This level of relief far outstrips what has been provided by other large states during this crisis. The total includes traditional unemployment insurance and new federal programs like Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides benefits for those not covered by traditional unemployment insurance; Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides an additional $600 per week for all benefit recipients; and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides 13 additional weeks of benefits, for a total of 39 weeks of unemployment benefits.
Facing an unprecedented surge in unemployment claims, the Department of Labor has taken decisive action to update its system, streamline operations, and improve its capacity to serve New Yorkers. These efforts include:
- Launching a new, streamlined website backed by Google Cloud's infrastructure, which can automatically scale to meet demand;
- Undertaking a major call back initiative to proactively call New Yorkers with partially completed applications and obtain the information needed to process their claims. To date, the DOL has made over 625,000 proactive calls;
- Increasing the number of Department of Labor representatives handling calls and processing applications from 400 people working five days a week to up to 3,100 individuals working seven days a week;
- Rolling out a streamlined online application, which allows New Yorkers to seamlessly apply for either traditional unemployment insurance or the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in one system; and
- Being among the first states to release the additional $600 weekly payments to unemployed individuals - even before the federal government made funding available.