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Jobless claims near 70,000 in Capital Region amid COVID-19 crisis

Jobless claims near 70,000 in Capital Region amid COVID-19 crisis

1.84 million statewide have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March
Jobless claims near 70,000 in Capital Region amid COVID-19 crisis
A sign last month at Boulevard Bowl in Schenectady
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

ALBANY — Across the seven-county Capital Region, 68,796 people have filed for unemployment insurance since mid-March, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo shut down large parts of the state’s economy amid the worsening COVID-19 crisis.

That’s 14.3% of the 480,800 people whom the state Department of Labor tallied as employed in those seven counties in January.

Given that these counties were starting from a baseline of 4% to 6% jobless in January, the unemployment rates is likely now above 20% in some Capital Region counties.

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Also, uncounted thousands of Capital Region residents are unemployed now but not counted in the totals, as they either didn’t file for unemployment benefits or attempted to file but were unsuccessful because Department of Labor systems were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of claims and technical glitches in handling them.

The Department of Labor released data Thursday tallying unemployment claims filed in individual counties from March 15 through May 2. The COVID-19 crisis began to grip New York in earnest around mid-March.

A total of 1.84 million unemployment claims have been submitted statewide since the crisis began. The state Department of Labor announced Wednesday that over $5.8 billion in benefits have been paid to 1.5 million New Yorkers since March.

Here is a breakdown of Capital Region counties, with estimated number employed in January, number of jobless claims since March 15, and claims as a percentage of those employed in January:

  • Albany 153,800 18,910 12.3%
  • Fulton 21,700 3,509 16.2%
  • Montgomery 21,400 3,924 18.3%
  • Rensselaer 79,100 10,545 13.3%
  • Saratoga 116,500 17,580 15.1%
  • Schenectady 74,100 12,698 17.1%
  • Schoharie 14,200 1,630 11.5%
  • N.Y. State 9.14M 1.84M 20.1%

Two nearby counties also were heavily affected:

  • Warren 29,500 5,761 19.5%
  • Washington 26,500 4,282 16.2%

Every one of these counties and the state as a whole saw a decrease in claims filed the week ended May 2 over the week ending April 25, as a 3,000-person task force created by the Department of Labor resolved technical problems and cleared the backlog of stalled earlier applications.

But additional problems remain, the Department of Labor said Wednesday: 470,084 New Yorkers have not received all of the benefits they are entitled to because they have not submitted one or more of the weekly certifications required under federal law.

The Department of Labor said it will streamline the process of submitting missed certifications and launch an effort to educate New Yorkers on the process.

It estimated New Yorkers who hadn’t correctly filed the certifications had not received $480 million in benefits they are entitled to.

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