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New York state is chipping away at its severe backlog of unemployment claims and has paid out over $10 billion in benefits to more than 2 million constituents, state Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said Thursday.
The massive payout nearly quadruples the $2.1 billion in claims paid for the entirety of last year.
The wave of joblessness struck in tandem with the coronavirus pandemic, with the Labor Department reporting more than 1.6 billion claims as of April 25, a number which has only risen throughout the month of May.
So far, 1,194,933 people who filed for unemployment before April 22 have received their payments.
Reardon said 7,580 additional claims are missing information and cannot be processed and another 15,831 are going through final processing that includes a check for fraud and identity theft. The state has processed another 20,801 claims but hasn’t released those benefits because individuals haven’t submitted federally mandated weekly certifications.
The Labor Department has been overwhelmed by claims, but some New Yorkers have complained about flaws in the system that make getting help slow and arduous.
The majority of the backlog consists of gig workers, contractors and self-employed people, as well as people who can’t go to work because their children are home from school.
New York hired an additional 3,000 staffers to help distribute hundreds of thousands of unemployment payments.
“We will continue to try to get in touch with everyone who applied so we can connect them with the benefits they are eligible for,” Reardon said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.