NYS unemployment system trying to dig out from an avalanche of applications


FILE – In this Wednesday, March 18, 2020 file photo, Visitors to the Department of Labor are turned away at the door by personnel due to closures over coronavirus concerns in New York. Americans are seeking unemployment benefits at unprecedented levels due to the coronavirus, but many are finding more frustration than relief. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The New York State Department of Labor reports it made 200,000 phone call-backs to benefit applicants between Friday morning and Sunday night, as the agency tried to catch up on the crush of claims.

As part of what the department called a “Tech Surge,” it unveiled a new website with the help of Google that it claimed was more streamlined, and reduced the number of applicants who needed to speak with a department employee to finish the process.

It also told applicants if they needed to speak to someone to complete the application process, the department would call them back, eliminating the logjam of thousands of New Yorkers flooding the department’s phone system.

Viewers have asked NewsChannel 9 how they can verify if the person calling them is from the Labor Department, since the agency’s employees handling the applications are working from home.

A department spokesperson responding to our inquiry said, “Protecting claimants’ data and their personal information is our number one priority. Which is why we are reminding New Yorkers that anyone calling from the Department of Labor will verify their identity by providing the date you filed your Unemployment Insurance application and the type of claim you filed, which is information only our representatives would have access to.”

The spokesperson also declined to elaborate on any other type of information an agent might request, saying to publicly disclose that would put claimants at risk.

Since federal, state, and local officials began banning public gatherings, closing non-essential businesses, and restricting movement, millions of American workers were thrown out of a job in the period of a few weeks.

The crush of applicants for jobless benefits overwhelmed computer and phone systems at unemployment centers around the nation, and here in New York.

NYS Labor Department

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