Of course the state website people need to apply for unemployment benefits keeps crashing. It’s getting at least six times the amount of traffic it ever had before, probably more. Like so much else surrounding the coronavirus crisis, the system just wasn’t ready for what was to come. Nearly half a million people in New York State tried to apply for jobless benefits in March.
Now, however, the state is working to fix the problem, partnering with Google to update the site. The Labor Department has increased the number of servers it uses for it from four to 50, to better handle the unprecedented traffic. And it’s hired 1,000 new workers.
But there’s another element that also needs to be addressed immediately: the requirement that people speak with a live person at the end of the application procedure before they can get approved. Reports say some people are calling 50 times a day for days on end trying to get through without success. The phone requirement should be waived during the virus crisis. Officials say benefits will be retroactive, but people need the money now. They can’t afford to be put on hold for any longer.