Department of Labor working to improve website after ‘unprecedented inundation’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 April 2020 at 9:37 pm

The State Department of Labor is adding staff and working to upgrade its website to handle the massive influx of calls and unemployment filings.

“Our systems are currently facing an unprecedented inundation,” the state DOL posted on its Facebook page on Monday evening.

Normally, the DOL’s phone system records 50,000 calls in a week. Between March 23 and March 28, there were 8.2 million calls, the DOL said.

The online filing system also received 3.4 million visits, compared to 350,000 in a typical week.

The DOL website has frequently crashed from the volume. Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized for the problem, and said the state is working hard to fix the system so it can function for New Yorkers.

“You’re unemployed, you’re trying to get on some darn website,” Cuomo said on Tuesday. “You can’t get through the website. We have companies working on it. We have literally hundreds of people working on it. I apologize for the pain. It must be infuriating to deal with.”

The Department of Labor said it is taking the following steps to improve the system:

• We are asking New Yorkers to help reduce the surge by only filing unemployment insurance claims on certain days, based on the first letter of their last name.

• We are streamlining the process to make it quicker, and automating additional pieces of the process so there are fewer reasons a filer has to call.

• We are reminding New Yorkers that even if filing is delayed, you will still receive the entire benefit you are entitled to.

• We have dedicated 700 staff to DOL’s Telephone Claims Center.

• Hundreds of additional staff – re-assigned from within DOL, borrowed from other agencies and new outside hires – are currently being on-boarded and trained.

• We have extended the call center hours, including expanding service to Saturdays and processing applications on Sundays.

• We have added over 20 additional servers to support the website’s capacity.

“We will continue to double down on all of these efforts to serve every New Yorker who is filing for unemployment insurance,” the DOL said. “We thank you for your patience.”

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