New York has paid out more than $5.8 billion in unemployment benefits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — a sign the economic toll from the crisis is a deep and widening one.
About 1.5 million New Yorkers are receiving benefits, and the Department of Labor on Wednesday said an additional 470,000 New Yorkers who did not receive their benefits because of certification errors.
Those people had missed nearly 700,000 previous weekly certifications as required under federal law.
“No New Yorker should miss receiving their benefits because of red tape — and today we are announcing efforts to help nearly half a million of our neighbors get their backdated benefits faster and easier,” Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said. “We will continue to think outside of the box and find creative solutions to the most common roadblocks to benefits New Yorkers face, and we will not rest until everyone has been served.”
The wave of business closures beginning in March created a sharp rise in unemployment, which in turn quickly overwhelmed an unemployment system not accustomed to such high volume.
The Department of Labor has added more server space to handle the increase in web traffic and has hired more people to answer phone calls from people seeking benefits.
The U.S. Department of Labor is expected to release its monthly jobs report for April on Friday that could show the unemployment rate as high as 20 percent.