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Jobless claims jump 520% in NY as first wave of COVID-19 layoffs hit

Jobless claims jump 520% in NY as first wave of COVID-19 layoffs hit

Increase had been expected and was likely worse than numbers show
Jobless claims jump 520% in NY as first wave of COVID-19 layoffs hit
Gov. Andrew Cuomo briefs the media Thursday at the state Capitol.
Photographer: Governor's Office

ALBANY — The state Department of Labor late Thursday released the first snapshot of the first wave of joblessness resulting from the COVID-19 crisis:

For the week ending March 21, more than 80,500 New Yorkers submitted initial claims for unemployment insurance.

That’s a 520 percent increase of the same week in 2019.

Full regional data was not available Thursday, but the Department of Labor said the smallest year-over-year jump among New York’s 10 labor regions was 285 percent.

The number of people newly unemployed by March 21 was likely much higher than 80,500 — many had trouble filing claims with the suddenly overwhelmed system.

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The Department of Labor said between March 16 and March 21, it took more than 1,734,100 phone calls and recorded over 2,227,300 web hits.

The week of March 16 to March 20 saw the first big shutdowns in the business world across New York, as state officials rushed to slow the spread of the virus by limiting businesses’ operation, shutting them down entirely or requiring that they have their employees work from home.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, during his daily COVID-19 briefing Thursday morning, told people suddenly unemployed that theirs is a collective problem with a collective solution.

“No one has lost their jobs,” he said. “We ALL lost our jobs.

“This is nothing to do with you — it’s the circumstance WE are in, and WE must correct it.

“There’s a strength in the fact that it’s all of us.”

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