April 13, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The New York Department of Labor has upgraded its online and call center technology systems that will increase the agency’s capacity to process unemployment benefit applications.
The new system, dubbed “Tech Surge,” was rolled out Friday — in partnership with Google Cloud, Deloitte, and Verizon — and will help speed up getting cash to people who have been laid-off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement released Thursday.
Up until last week, many people who filed for unemployment were unable to complete the process online–and were required to call in to verify information pertaining to their claim. However, the agency’s phone system failed to keep up with the surge in new applicants and many people missed out on getting badly needed funds.
The new streamlined website – which has increased the number of servers that support its online filing system from four to over 60 — will fully process most applications online and relieve some of the backlog on the agency’s phones systems.
The department has urged applicants to first use the new online system in order to reduce the number of people who must speak to a claims specialist over the phone. Further, people who are unable to complete the process online are no longer required to call the agency to finish their application. Instead, the department said it will call those applicants and are advising them that the incoming caller ID may be listed as, “private number.”
Labor Commissioner Department Roberta Reardon said the agency recognizes that this is a challenging time for all New Yorkers and that the agency is responding as quickly as possible.
“I have been unemployed. I understand the urgency,” she said.
“We know that your livelihood depends on it and we assure you that you will get your benefits,” she added.
Applicants who are entitled to benefits will receive them, even if there filing date is delayed, the statement read.
The call center’s opening hours have been extended to seven days per week and the number of staff has already been bumped up to 1,000 from 400 with plans in place to add a further 200, the agency said.
More than 16 million Americans have now lost their jobs in the last three weeks, according to the latest Labor Department figures released Thursday. Just over 345,000 New Yorkers filed new claims last week ending April 4.