WETHERSFIELD - State workers in Connecticut are processing 20 times the number of unemployment claims they normally process, a deluge caused by the coronavirus, officials said Wednesday.
Department of Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said staff have been shifted from other jobs to help the unemployment claims operation. Also, about a dozen retirees and other employees who've handled the state's unemployment claims in the past have been asked to return.
“I've never seen numbers like this. This is unprecedented,” Westby said. “In the last recession, we had high numbers, but those numbers gradually went up. This happened in a week."
The agency received more than 72,000 unemployment claims in just one week, from March 13 to 20, officials said. In a more typical week there are 3,000 to 3,500 claims.
The surge in filings is leading to longer than usual waits for payments.
Before the virus outbreak, claims processing took about one-to-three business days. It's now taking about three weeks. State officials are urging applicants to have their payments sent via direct deposit to their bank accounts. If not, the funds will be put on a debit card, which could take an additional several days to process.