Coronavirus and the States: Unemployment Sites Jam, Evictions Pause and More

By: - March 18, 2020 12:00 am

People wait in line for help with unemployment benefits yesterday in Las Vegas. John Locher/The Associated Press

Read Stateline coverage of the latest state action on coronavirus.

A wave of laid-off workers, mostly from restaurants and bars that together form the nation’s largest private employer, overwhelmed state unemployment systems as states relaxed rules on coronavirus-related unemployment insurance.

Northeastern and New England states were the first to see websites jammed by new jobless claims, as more governors opted to close restaurants and other public gathering places.

At least 20 states and the District of Columbia have announced emergency help for laid-off workers, usually waiving waiting periods for benefits and extending temporary benefits during the crisis, according to Stateline research.

In New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, online systems jammed as thousands took advantage of emergency rules allowing internet applications for unemployment benefits without the usual waiting period and in-person appearance.

Connecticut claims reached about 12,000 yesterday and 30,000 in the past week, 10 times the rate before the crisis, threatening to deplete the state’s reserve funds. A record 15,000 filed in New Jersey Monday.

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Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson

Tim Henderson covers demographics for Stateline. He has been a reporter at the Miami Herald, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Journal News.