On May 21, Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said that the New York state is now reducing its severe backlog of unemployment claims and the state has paid out $10 billion in benefits to more than 2 million people. The payout made by the state quadruples the $2.1 billion claims that were paid last year.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans filed for unemployment, and the Labor Department reported on April 25 that around 1.6 billion claims were recorded and the number further increased in May. The 1,194,933 people who filed for unemployment before April 22 were already given their payments.
According to Reardon, there are 7,580 additional claims that do not have complete information and it can't be processed. Also, around 15, 831 unemployment claims are being processed to check if there are any cases of identity theft or fraud.
The state has also processed another batch of around 20,801 unemployment claims but the state has not released the benefits yet because the people did not submit their federally mandated weekly certifications.
Due to the sudden increase of claims, the Labor Department has been overwhelmed. New Yorkers have complained about the slow operations of the department and its other flaws. The majority of the people who filed for unemployment claims were gig workers, self-employed people, and contractors.
People who can't go to work because of their children also filed for claims. In order to distribute thousands of unemployment payments in the state, New York hired 3,000 staffers.
According to Reardon, they will continue to try to get in touch with everyone who had applied for claims so that they can connect them with the benefits that they are eligible for.
New York's economy
New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, with thousands of people dead in days.
In ensure the safety of the people, all non-essential businesses were forced to close, and because of this, the economy of the state has declined drastically. The state had a GDP of $1.5 trillion in 2017, which is 8% of the national total.
On March 25, the U.S Senate passed a stimulus package of $2.2 trillion to address the economic impact of the pandemic, New York only received $3.8 billion despite being hit by the pandemic the hardest. Since the state can no longer afford losses, it is now preparing to reopen its businesses after they saw a decline in COVID-19 cases.
On May 11, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that some parts of New York will begin to reopen, but the city will need to stay closed down until June. Mayor Bill De Blasio announced that New York City will create a number of groups, such as task forces, advisory councils, and a commission, to help the city to recovery after the outbreak.
The councils will be divided by sector and it will include labor, arts, culture, tourism, education, vocational training, and small businesses. New Yorkers will also be required to wear face masks while they are in public, and the trains and buses will be sanitized regularly.
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