Glitches and long wait times plagued New York’s unemployment system during the early weeks of the COVID pandemic as New Yorkers sought to apply for benefits amid waves of layoffs.
Governor Kathy Hochul and state Department of Labor officials unveiled a series of upgrades intended to address these issues.
State officials are halfway through a modernization plan to reduce call volume and make it easier to apply for unemployment benefits. Enacting the changes is expected to take about four years in total, Hochul said.
“The struggles New York’s workforce has experienced during the pandemic have shown us how crucial it is to be able to connect job seekers with employers,” Governor Hochul said. “As we rebuild from the economic effects of the pandemic, we must continue to improve the systems that allow us to get money back into the hands of New Yorkers. I commend the Department of Labor for its swift work throughout throughout the pandemic to help New Yorkers facing challenges, and I look forward to continuing to work with them as we close the gaps in our infrastructure.”
Basically, the goal is to ensure that people requesting help can check the status of their requests and resolve any issues that may arise.
The Department of Labor plans to develop an “omnichannel” contact center that will use robot-driven technology to answer specific claims questions. A new management system will be put in place in order to process complaints quickly.
The department is also creating a new intranet system to improve internal training and help call center staff streamline complaints. The UI system is also being updated to replace its old central computer.
Labor officials had previously upgraded its phone system and added a new Google app to prevent the phone system from being overwhelmed by a crush of claims.
The onset of the pandemic led to a record number of New York residents applying for unemployment insurance in 2020, making it harder to confirm or get benefits. State officials then pledged to make changes to the system to streamline the process of applying for help.
“The Department of Labor was already working to improve the unemployment system, but the pandemic put it on the fast track to quickly deliver $105 billion in relief to nearly 5 million New Yorkers,” the Department said. Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “Since then, the Department has embraced innovative solutions, and we continue to evolve to better serve New Yorkers. Our adaptability is why so many states continue to look to us for leadership. leadership throughout this global health crisis.”