ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Three weeks of the coronavirus shutdown and more Americans have filed for unemployment than did during the two-year recession a decade ago. The numbers in New Mexico are just as staggering, and Workforce Solutions is overwhelmed by the avalanche of new claims.
The Department of Labor released numbers Thursday, showing more than 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits just last week. In New Mexico, more than 26,000 people filed new claims during that week.
“With unemployment, a lot of people are going to be able to get help if they can be patient with us with the high volumes we’re working through,” said Bill McCamley, Department of Workforce Solutions Secretary a few weeks ago.
Since then, unemployment claims have only soared. Before the widespread business shutdown, Workforce Solutions saw less than 1,000 unemployment claims per week. They’ve now received more than 70,000 claims in the past three weeks, according to data released by the Department of Labor.
Workforce Solutions have expanded call hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. but they’re strongly encouraging people to use the online portal. If people do need to call, Workforce Solutions said they should call on their designated days which corresponds to the last digit of their social security number.
The state has waived the waiting week for benefits for those who have applied since March 15. This means claimants will receive an extra week of benefit payments, while new applicants should receive benefits faster.
When this process started, Workforce Solutions had 75 to 80 people answering the phones. Now they have about 130 people answering the phones, and they’re taking more than 20,000 calls a week.
Yvette Nary she filed for unemployment on March 24 for the first time in her life after being laid off.
“I started calling in the evening, and then the next morning is when I started with 120 tries, and then I got the hold queue,” she recalled. “But they’re overwhelmed,” she added.
Nary said she did recently receive her first unemployment check, but has heard from others who are still waiting to hear back about their claims.
On Wednesday, Workforce solutions announced a $750 stimulus was available for the first 2,000 qualified self-employed applicants. However, that link got taken down due to technical issues. Workforce solutions say they’re working quickly to resolve the problem.
People like Nary are worried about how long this might go on. “I think it’s really dangerous,” said Nary. “Because we don’t know how long the economy is going to be shut down.”
Workforce Solutions said they’re working hard to approve people in groups instead of individually. The federal government says people should start receiving their $1,200 stimulus checks soon, part of a $2 trillion relief act passed two weeks ago.
Those who’ve given direct deposit information to the IRS should start seeing stimulus deposits soon. If the IRS does not have your direct deposit info, you’ll have to wait longer for a physical check.
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New Mexico Coronavirus Resources
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