BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Governor Andrew Cuomo apologized Monday for the way the state has handled the unemployment claim filing process.
“Its not working as smoothly as I would like to see it. Its compounding people's stress — you're unemployed you're trying to get on some darn website, you can't get through to the website,” he said.
At the end of the week there are still hundreds of people across the state that can not get through to the phone lines to complete claims.
One woman we spoke to said she was on the phone for more than seven hours before the system hung up on her.
People are calling hundreds of times each day to try and get through, but the Department of Labor was not prepared for this kind of influx.
Claims in Western New York are up 3300% compared to this time last year.
The DOL says its call volume increased 16,000% and web traffic is up over 900% which keeps crashing its system.
“We usually get 50,000 calls per week. We got 1.2 million calls yesterday and 7.8 million calls last week.
Here are the steps it says it is implementing to help:
- Implemented a new, more efficient filing system based on the first letter of the applicant's last name (alphabetical order):
- A - F : Monday
- G - N : Tuesday
- O - Z : Wednesday
- Missed your day: Thursday through Saturday
- Streamlined the claims process, automating additional processes and reducing the situations in which a filer has to call and speak with a representative;
- Dedicated 700 staff to the Department of Labor’s unemployment insurance Telephone Claim Center, with plans to bring hundreds of additional staff on board;
- Extended the Telephone Claim Center’s hours, including expanding service to Saturdays:
- Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:30 PM
- Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
- Saturdays, 7:30 AM to 8:00 PM
- Added over 20 additional servers to support the website's capacity; and
- Begun working with major technology companies to further improve website and call center capacity and functionality
See FAQs about filing for unemployment in New York State here.