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Stories and information in our region on the COVID-19 pandemic.

N.Y. Unemployment System Gets Upgrades, But Complaints Continue

John Minchillo
The New York State Department of Labor as seen in March.

Complaints about New York’s unemployment offices continue, even though Cuomo and his aides have said they are improving the antiquated system. 

Several days ago, the state simplified the forms and said applicants would get a call back from the state Department of Labor in 72 hours. The governor was asked by reporters about jobless New Yorkers who say the state failed to call them back during that time period. The governor says he understands the frustration.

“I get it,” said. “There’s nothing worse than being unemployed, and nervous about a paycheck, and then you call for unemployment benefits, and you can’t get through on the phone.”

The system, which normally handles around 50,000 calls a week, had nearly 8 million calls in one week in late March and early April.

Cuomo says the state has 1,000 workers transferred from other departments to work on the volume of phone calls, which is working with Google to try to streamline the system.

On Monday, the state Labor Department issued a new application that fixed a glitch that required applicants to file twice, one for regular unemployment, and if they were rejected, to then file for the federal enhanced pandemic unemployment program. Now they just have to apply once. Cuomo says even if benefits are delayed, they will be retroactive to the date of the person’s job loss.

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Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.
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