“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the New York State Department of Labor’s unemployment insurance filing system has faced an unprecedented increase in volume -- with peak weeks seeing a 16,000% increase in phone calls and a 1,600% increase in web traffic, compared to a typical week,” the New York Department of Labor (DOL) said in a press release.
The new site, which launched today, will be backed by Google Cloud's infrastructure and should, therefore, be much better equipped to handle the increased demands being placed on the system.
In addition, according to the New York Department of Labor, the site will allow users to save an incomplete application and pick up where they left off; provide an “every device experience,” so New Yorkers can file from smartphones, tablets and laptops; and streamline the number of questions so the application is shorter and easier to understand.
As COVID-19 has ravaged New York State, with over 170,000 having tested positive, its residents have also felt the economic pain from the crisis. The state has reportedly processed more than 600,000 unemployment claims since March 9, but there are at least 200,000 people who are in limbo.
Besides the new site, as well as additional call-center hours and increased staffing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the DOL to provide $600 in additional weekly unemployment benefits for all New Yorkers, without waiting for the federal funds to arrive; and he increased the period covered by unemployment benefits for another 13 weeks, for 39 weeks total.
Google also launched a search feature that directs people to unemployment resources in the United States. The company plans to expand that feature to the state level, as well.
“We continue to work with local, state and federal agencies on a number of projects to help them better serve citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic,” a representative from Google’s Cloud division told CNBC.