Financial Focus: You have a new job- the unemployment telephone line

Financial Focus: You have a new job- the unemployment telephone line

By Professor Anthony Rivieccio MBA PFA

When one would get laid off in an earlier time, you would never see any lines at the unemployment line

They were in cyberspace

States’ would have claims by telephone and the internet. While success varied from State to State, I’m sure many would say, except for some minor glitches, many would start to receive assistance 3 weeks or less after they applied

Welcome to Coronavirus 2020, where now it might take you 3 weeks, just to apply.

The phone lines are jammed. You might get disconnected. Or even worse, to fill out the application on the internet to find out just when you pressed that ” enter here” button that you were told to ” try again, your application did not go through”. 

As of this writing for the last 2 weeks, US employment claims hit 10 million. How big is that? Let me put it this way, the population of the City of New York has 8.3 million. The State of New Jersey had 9 million citizens. In essence, 2% of our working population- is no longer working. 

And the beginning of this is starting to show in our US Unemployment rate, from 3.7% to 4.4% or a 18% increase .

But our Congress & President are trying hard to help. They have assisted in monies that have now created a new ” essence” of unemployment.

For example, jobless workers will now receive $600 extra , on top of their State benefits, for up to 4 months.

Federal lawmakers, by extending this benefit for 13 weeks will make the avg State benefits last at least 24 weeks ( or more depending on your State) .

Finally, the new pandemic unemployment assistance program expands eligibility to those who are unemployed and also includes independent contractors, the self-employed and gig economy workers. 

So, let’s look at New York for a moment to see how it’s working.

Gov Cuomo recently told CNN, “The state system was not keeping up with the demand”.

“I apologize for the pain. It must be infuriating to deal with,” he said at a press conference.

Last week, the state’s Labor Department received more than 8.2 million calls, compared to 50,000 in a typical week. Its online filing system had 3.4 million visits, compared to 350,000 normally.

The agency has dedicated 700 people to the unemployment insurance hotline and is training hundreds more. It has extended call center hours, added 20 additional servers to boost its website capacity and is processing applications on Sunday.

The state is also asking people to file on certain days, based on the first letter of their last name.

Still, even late at night, the agency’s page warns it can take more than an hour to apply.

“The site is so deluged that it keeps crashing because you literally have hundreds of thousands of people at any time trying to get on the site,” Cuomo said.

“It’s compounding people’s stress,” he said. “You’re unemployed, you’re trying to get on some darn website. You can’t get through the website.”

So hold on and keep trying. My guess is in 2-3 more weeks, when things settle, I am sure many more will be able to get through. However, you must be vigilant.

The best news, you can apply until December. The bad news, count and spend your money wisely till then.

Professor Anthony Rivieccio, MBA PFA, is the founder and CEO of The Financial Advisors Group, celebrating its 24th year as a fee-only financial planning firm specializing in solving one’s financial problems. Mr. Rivieccio, a recognized financial expert since 1986, has been featured by many national and local media including: Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, The New York Post, News 12 The Bronx, Bloomberg News Radio, BronxNet Television, the Norwood News, The West Side Manhattan Gazette, Labor Press Magazine, Financial Planning Magazine, WINS 1010 Radio, The Co-Op City News, The Bronx News, and The Bronx Chronicle. Mr.  Rivieccio also pens a financial article called “Money Talk”. Anthony is also currently an Adjunct Professor of Business, Finance & Accounting for both, City University of New York & Monroe College, a Private University. You can reach Anthony at 347.575.5045. 

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