Long Islanders struggle to file for unemployment benefits

Some Long Islanders say they are having a hard time filing for unemployment benefits after being put out of work due to the pandemic.

Small businesses and major retailers are temporarily halting salaries of workers, meaning a lot of people are filing for unemployment. That means the Labor Department is overwhelmed with clients.

JoAnn Klein is a realtor from Miller Place. She says she's spent several days trying to apply for unemployment benefits without luck.

According to the latest figures from the state, for the week ending March 21, unemployment claims were up 520%. And in that same time period, it received more than 1.7 million phone calls and 2.2 million web hits.

Klein says she still has not been able to file a claim on the phone, online or in person, since the state labor offices are closed.

On the state's website, it admits it has been overwhelmed and is asking people to file on days that match the first letter of their last name. It says all claims will be backdated to the date of unemployment.

News 12 asked for a comment from the Labor Department on what steps it was taking to possibly alleviate unemployment claim frustrations but has not heard back.