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March 19, 2020 - 3:16pm

NYS Department of Labor dealing with 'unprecedented increase' of unemployment calls, website hits

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, NYS Department of Labor, unemployment benefits.

 Update: 4:30 p.m.

From Deanna Cohen: Today by noon, we had 206,080 logins to our website and 159,000 calls.

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The New York State Department of Labor’s staff is being stretched to the limit – and beyond – as thousands of displaced and laid off workers are filing for unemployment benefits.

“Currently, our New York State Department of Labor website is averaging 250,000 logins per day -- a 400 percent increase over the normal average – and we’re seeing over a 1000 percent increase in claims in some areas across the state,” Deanna Cohen, NYS Department of Labor deputy director of communications, told The Batavian this afternoon.

Cohen said the agency is taking major steps to address what she called “this unprecedented increase.”

“We have added server capacity, bandwidth, and dedicated more than 700 staff members to address the influx,” she said, noting that on Tuesday the department received 75,000 calls – about 65,000 more than the number of calls received on an average day. “We are also hiring an additional 65 plus more individuals to address the surge and will be hiring more as we are able.”

She made it a point to say that all New Yorkers will get the benefits they are entitled to; even if they file next week, they will receive their FULL benefit back to the date of unemployment.

Cohen said readers should be aware of the federal government’s enactment of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes extended unemployment benefits.

“New Yorkers do not need to do anything new -- if the state qualifies for extended benefits, those benefits will be provided automatically,” she reported. “So if individuals are calling with questions about extended unemployment insurance benefits, they should hang up and go to our website at www.labor.ny.gov for more information. This will help keep these phone lines available for their fellow New Yorkers who need to file new claims.”

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