WASHINGTON, D.C. – Since the novel coronavirus began forcing shutdowns in the United States, at least 26 million people have now filed for unemployment, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor.
That’s more jobless claims in five weeks than all the jobs since the Great Recession in the late 2000s.
“It is staggering, it is depressing, and it makes me worried for how long it is going to take us to crawl out of this when this is over,” said Jon Hyman, a labor and employment lawyer in Ohio.
For weeks now, Hyman has been helping businesses and their employees navigate the unemployment system. Initially, he dealt with issues around people being unable to get through to unemployment because of the system being overwhelmed.
“The access issue has gotten marginally better, I still don’t think it’s great,” said Hyman.
However, he is seeing a bigger issue now with people who get through and are able to file an unemployment claim, then not getting the money for that claim.
“Only 35% of claims are being paid out, so 65% of people who have filed claims have not seen dollar one in the door for unemployment,” Hyman added.
Those are the numbers for Ohio, and they’re actually better than some other states. For example, in Florida only 14% of claims have been paid out and 86% of people are still waiting for unemployment help. Some have been waiting for a month.
“It is not surprising that a state like that, which was so slow to react to the crisis in general, is having such a problem getting claims paid to their employees,” said Hyman.
Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity has come out now stating it has conducted "necessary performance enhancements" which should speed things up going forward.
Florida is also considering offering backpay for delayed claims. Around the country, most states have already committed to backdating a portion of or all of someone’s claim, if that claim has had a delay in getting approved.