‘Unprecedented’: Unemployment claims in Massachusetts skyrocket amid coronavirus outbreak

BOSTON (WHDH) - Unemployment claims in Massachusetts have skyrocketed over the last week due to the coronavirus outbreak that has forced businesses to close their doors, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without work.

New data released by the Department of Labor on Thursday showed an unemployment claims increase of more than 1,950 percent in Massachusetts between March 15 and March 21.

Initial claims in the Bay State jumped from 7,449 to 147,995 during that time period, according to the DOL.

“The scale of increased demand for the unemployment system as a result of COVID-19 is unprecedented. In 5 days, the DUA received around twice as many new unemployment claims as were filed during the entire worst month of the Great Recession,” the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor said in a tweet.

The Commonwealth’s hotel industry has been among the hardest hit with nearly 70,000 workers who have lost their jobs due to the public health emergency.

“During their press conferences they’re saying all is well, but on my end, all is not well,” Adam Lewis, a newly unemployed marble fabricator said.

He can’t file for unemployment in Mass. because he cannot remember his password. According to him, the computer will not help and the call center is a no go.

Brad Edlund was laid off from his job as a sheet metal worker, has been unable to file is unemployment claim, and he says his money is running out.

“It’s been very stressful. I have myself, my fiancee, my two kids,” he said. “The bills don’t stop coming in but unfortunately the money has.”

Gov. Charlie Baker said the state has a cloud-based system that takes a huge amount of applications online without a problem — unless the system rejects someone who is applying.

According to Baker, the biggest problem is the name of the employer. It must match the name on the W2 exactly.

Nearly 3.3 million people across the United States applied for unemployment benefits last week — more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982.

Some economists say the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13 percent by May.

Have you lost your job? You may qualify for temporary income to support you while you look for a new one. To apply for unemployment benefits, click here.

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