NYS unemployment: Cuomo defends state’s effort to provide benefits

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WATERTOWN, NY (WSYR-TV) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo again defended the state’s handling of unemployment benefits following a rising chorus of attacks from Republican lawmakers calling for an investigation, and at least one demanding the state’s top labor officials resignation.

New York and other states have struggled to respond to the demands for unemployment benefits in the wake of business closings and layoffs linked to COVD-19.

The nation’s unemployment rate last month reached 14.7 %, the highest rate since the Great Depression.

NewsChannel 9 and state lawmakers continue to hear from frustrated New Yorkers that they have no income and can’t get through to file claims for unemployment benefits.

During his daily briefing, Wednesday in Watertown, Cuomo said the call for labor commissioner Roberta Reardon’s resignation was a cheap shot.

He and top aid Melisa DeRosa said the state has now paid out $7.4 billion in benefits to 1.7 million unemployed workers in New York since the crisis began in mid-March, and have paid out 330,000 claims for pandemic unemployment assistance to self-employed workers.

Cuomo said that in all of the Great Recession of 2008-2009 that lasted 18 months the state had to handle 300,000 claims.

He acknowledged that is little comfort to those still waiting, and the state is working very hard to get benefits to those individuals.

Later Wednesday Commissioner Reardon had a conference call with reporters about the agency’s progress in processing claims.

NewsChannel 9 and other reporters asked about the volume of calls and emails news outlets continue to receive from from people who filed claims as far back as April 1, and have yet to recieve any payments.

All she could say was that the labor department was working to clear the backlog.

You can hear her comments and answers to media questions in the link below.

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