Unemployment claims in Delaware slow, but now top 70,000 during pandemic
New unemployment claims in Delaware remain high, but are starting to tail off a bit.
And the state hopes processing them will start to become easier.
The Delaware Department of Labor says 9,294 filed for unemployment for the first time for the week ending April 18. The Dept. of Labor says that represents about 15 percent of Delaware’s workforce.
Earlier this week, Secretary of Labor Cerron Cade said if those filing do everything correctly, they should get their first benefit within one week.
But Delaware Division of Unemployment Insurance Director Darryl Scott says there are still some issues processing the claims.
"There's still some growing pains as you can imagine going from processing 500 a week to, as I said, 72,000 in five weeks," said Scott. "And just to put that in perspective, that 72,000 number is larger than the number of claims we received in the prior 26 months."
Cade says hiring a third-party call center should help with issues responding to the volume of emails and calls his department is fielding.
"A lot of claimants who had problems with filing should start receiving emails back regarding the emails that they sent into the office as they begin to improve," said Cade. "That call center will then transition to the phones to address the people who are calling in, but we imagine that if we can get through the emails then that will have an impact on the calls."
Cade adds the state is also on its way to addressing the needs of self-employed workers and independent contractors.
"With regard to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, we also announced a vendor to stand up a program specific for independent contractors and self-employed workers in alignment with USDOL has required states and that company we're working with them to get that program set up hopefully in the coming weeks," said Cade Tuesday.
Nationally, The U.S. Dept. of Labor reports there were 4.4 million new unemployment claims, bringing the total of the past five weeks to 26.4 million
The weekly claims were 810,000 less than the previous week, but the total since the pandemic started has now eclipsed all of employment gains made since the Great Recession.