A tidal wave of workers laid off amid the mass coronavirus shutdown have been applying for benefits much faster than the overwhelmed state unemployment agencies can process them.
“There is reason to believe … that even the 3.283 million figure understates the case,” Richard Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial Corporation told Politico.
“Many states have reported their systems for processing claims have crashed under the weight of unprecedented volumes.”
The New York State Labor Department on Wednesday said 1.7 million calls were placed last week seeking jobless benefits.
But the Bureau of Labor Statistics show just 80,334 New Yorkers applying for benefits.
“If you have been unable to get through our phone and/or online system this week, please keep trying,” New York’s labor agency tweeted Wednesday.
“You will still receive full UI benefits back to your date of unemployment.”
The department said it is is hiring 200 additional staff, has upped server capacity and has dedicated 700 people to answering calls to deal with the influx.
In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday the state received more than 1 million claims over the past two weeks. But the DOL reported only 186,809 new claims there for the past week.
There was also a disparity in Texas, where the state’s workforce commission said more than 800,000 people tried to file unemployment claims last week and the DOL reported just 155,657.
Also left out in the DOL count are workers who aren’t eligible for unemployment aid, like independent contractors, those who don’t make enough to qualify, and those who haven’t worked long enough at a new job to qualify.