Where Are The States At On UI Benefits?
Its been a while since unemployment benefits were extended to cover a wider range of unemployed people. So far some states have been quick to keep their labor websites updated with the progress while others are reportedly slow on keeping UI applicants informed. In this article, we shall survey the points of progress the five states with the largest numbers of UI claims are at. You will know when you can expect to hear from your unemployment office if you are worried about the radio silence.
States With The Largest Number Of UI Claims
Over 6 million unemployment insurance claims were filed over last week alone, the record highest number in US history. The states have been overburdened due to a shortage of staff, ill-equipped servers (to handle the volume of claimants logging in) and of course, state trust funds.
As many states had downsized their UI systems over the years, they have been scrambling to hire/depute employees to process the UI claims and sign agreements with the US Dept of Labor to get the CARES Act funds. Let’s take a look at the status of five states with the highest number of UI claims.
This state saw over 900,000 claims filed just last week. While every state on this list is struggling to process the huge surge in UI claims, California is particularly in need of more resources and fast.
Governor Gavin Newsom directed that unemployment phone line timings be extended. So now people can call from 8 am-5 pm whereas previously, calls would not be taken after 12 noon. Unfortunately, the extended hours alone won’t help because many people report being put on hold and not getting hold pf a representative even after the call gets through.
The California Employment Development Department has not yet made guidelines clear for claim filing by independent contractors and gig workers. On the bright side, the state labor website stays up-to-date.
This state has had insured unemployment of more than 500,000 along with over 283,000 UI claims just last week. Pennsylvanians are fortunate to have better UI benefits than many other states even without the additional payout provided by the Families First and CARES Acts.
Pennsylvania claims to have already begun sending unemployment payments. However, the state has not significantly raised the capacity to take calls and respond to email volume, at this time of writing.
The state has tentatively announced that a separate platform to streamline the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims will be developed in 2 weeks.
With insured unemployment of 715,750 till March 28 and 345,246 claims filed last week, the state of New York has among the most well-updated sites. The state has been experiencing the same issues with technical capacities and staff shortage but it has kept people informed about the work in progress on different measures being taken.
New York has been quick to upgrade its online UI application system since people reported calls dropping midway when they even got through. The state has roped in new staffers and call centers. They have also extended phone line hours which are now 8 am-7:30 pm.
It has already begun sending out the $600 assistance as part of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
This state saw 388,175 claims filed just this week and a similar number last week. Georgia is ahead of Penn State with an even shorter period of one week announced tentatively for PUA payments to go out.
The Georgia Department of Labor has announced that they are in the process of improving the UI claims process with more questions being added to identify eligible applicants. To help contractors and gig workers they are likely to use different wage criteria from the normal system.
The state has announced that payments will be backdated to ensure that people don’t lose benefit payments due to the delays in executing the program.
A few workers have reported receiving benefits cards but with the money that should have been there, not on them. The phone lines continue to be jammed despite the state hiring call centers.
Michigan is another top state in terms of UI claim filed numbering at 384,844 last week alone. The state has enabled contractors, gig workers, etc. to start filing unemployment claims and extended phone line hours. But the website crashes frequently.
On the bright side, Michigan is among the earliest states to actually start sending the benefits. Most states including Michigan have recommended that applicants file claims as per the following schedule:
Last names beginning with letters A-L: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays.
Last names beginning with letters M-Z: Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
Whoever misses filing on the above days, can do so on Saturdays.
With states finally gearing up to handle the large payment volumes, people can expect to start receiving benefits by mid-April. There are many teething troubles yet to be fixed such as monetary determination letters showing zero benefits owed due to improper wage calculations. Most states are hiring workers to process additional claims and expanding technical capabilities.
Also heartening to see are funding campaigns and community interventions to support the people laid-off.
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