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Unemployment claims jump by 2,700 percent

The New York State Department of Labor today announced that 369,025 initial Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims were filed for the week ending March 28, 2020, representing an increase of 288,516 claims from the 80,509 UI claims that were filed the previous week.

Compared to last year, initial claims for Unemployment Insurance in New York State for the week ending March 28, 2020, increased by 2,674%.

In each of New York’s 10 labor market regions, initial claims for UI increased by a minimum of 1,379% year-over-year.

The cumulative increase in March (for the weeks ending 3/14, 3/21and 3/28) was nearly 425,000 compared to the same period in 2019.


“We know that businesses across the Empire State are bearing the brunt of this developing economic crisis, and that means hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers’ livelihoods are at risk. But we have a resilient workforce in New York State — and that will not be diminished,” said New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon.

“The keys to the success of our economy and job market are our forward-thinking employers and the hardworking men and women who make up our workforce.  Through innovative thinking, strategic partnerships, and high-quality training, we have made New York’s workforce the best in the nation, and we will continue that work.

“As New Yorkers weather this public health crisis, our Governor and the NYS DOL will be right here, working alongside all of you, to reenergize our economy and our workforce, and ensure New York State remains prosperous on the other side of this unprecedented challenge.”

The following data compares initial UI claims for the week ending March 28, 2020 with the same period one year earlier:

Labor market regions with the most rapid over-the-year percentage increase in initial claims included: Long Island (+3,605%), Western NY (+3,304%), Hudson Valley (+2,773%), Capital Region (+2,768%) and Central NY (+2,765%). At the same time, initial claims for out-of-state residents grew by 1,648%.

On a net basis, regions with the largest over-the-year increase in initial claims included: New York City (+138,544), Long Island (+50,976), Western NY (+36,471), Hudson Valley (+33,059) and Finger Lakes (+24,089). Initial claims for out-of-state residents grew by 15,853 during this timeframe.

For the week ending March 28, 2020, all statewide industries experienced an increase in initial claims for Unemployment Insurance over the past year.

Statewide industries in New York with the most rapid over-the-year percentage increase in initial claims included: Other Services (+9,153%), Accommodation and Food Services (+4,159%), Arts, Entertainment and Recreation (+3,880%), Healthcare and Social Assistance (+3,847%) and Educational Services (+3,800%).

In recent weeks, the New York State Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance filing system has faced an unprecedented increase in volume — including a 16,000% increase in phone calls and a nearly 900% increase in web traffic, compared to a typical week. In order to address this surge, the Department of Labor has:

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.

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo also announced the launch of a new PSA that provides information on how to apply for unemployment benefits and reassures New Yorkers if their unemployment filing is delayed, they will still receive full unemployment benefits.

New Yorkers seeking to file an unemployment insurance claim can visit or call the Telephone Claim Center at (888) 209-8124.

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