State Department of Labor working to clear unemployment backlog

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — As unemployment applications continue pouring into the state Department of Labor due to COVID-19, the state is working to clear the backlog.

The Governor’s secretary, Melissa DeRosa, said they’ve made ‘a significant dent’ in the backlogged claims. There’s now more than 3,000 Department of Labor representatives working to process applications.

The Department of Labor said the unemployment application ‘call backlog’ of 275,000 before April 8 has gone down to about 4,300.

“So that’s all been cleared, those phone calls all happened. Those applications are closed. Now those applications get inputted and the comptroller starts to process the checks,” said DeRosa.

The department partnered with Google and Verizon to improve the state’s unemployment website. DeRosa said people should start seeing their money come in this week. She said choosing the direct deposit option can speed things up.

“Others choose to get their money on a debit card, that’s a longer process that takes about a week to come in the mail, so if you can I would encourage people to go the direct deposit route.”

Also new on Monday, the department announced a ‘new streamlined application’ for pandemic unemployment assistance for those who are unable to work due to the pandemic. Those who may qualify for the federal program include gig workers, farmers, self-employed people, and independent contractors.

“You can now fill out one application, put in all the information and the Department of Labor determines if you are not able to get regular unemployment insurance it will automatically put you into pandemic unemployment insurance so you don’t have to wait, get rejected, reapply.”

So far the department has paid about $2.2 billion in unemployment insurance benefits to more than one million people.

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