As the coronavirus sweeps across the world, millions of Americans are being laid off. This has caused unemployment claims to reach 6.6 million in the nation. The increase of first-time claims has reached nearly 3,000% since early March, indicating a severe job market decline.
In Florida, the Department of Economic Opportunity is seeing historic increases in the number of Floridians filing for reemployment assistance.
At a Zoom meeting on Thursday, Florida DEO Executive Director Ken Lawson apologized for the state’s broken website. Lawson stressed that the overwhelming increase in claims was to blame but he assured that he is committed to assessing the situation as quickly as possible.
“Over the next week or two this is going to be difficult,” Lawson said. “But we are using all the money we have, the resources we have to expand capacity, hire additional staff and bring outside technology companies to assist us in improving this system.”
According to Paige Ludrum, press secretary for the DEO, Florida received 226,999 applications for reemployment assistance during the week ending March 28. She added that Lawson has signed a contract with Faneuil, a customer care and technical support company with the capacity to add up to 250 representatives to the Florida reemployment assistance call center.
“A significant workload for the team has been resetting PINs for Floridians accessing the online application,” Ludrum said. By the end of the week, a minimum of 50 Faneuil employees will be assisting Floridians in that task, she added.
The United States Department of Labor released their weekly unemployment claims report on Thursday stating that the country received an additional 3.3 million applications since last week. The department added that this had marked the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia also shared a statement on Thursday assuring that the administration is working rapidly to address the impact, including the new rule the department adopted to implement the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Act as well as CARES Act.
“Similar to last week’s unemployment claims numbers, today’s report reflects the sacrifices American workers are making for their families, neighbors and country in order to slow the spread,” Scalia said.