Thousands of Americans are filing for unemployment and its crashing government websites

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep through the world like wildfire, many business in the US and some countries have shut down, leading to a surge in newly laid off workers.

The US workers who have suddenly found themselves without a paycheck because of the growing coronavirus pandemic in the United States are now dealing with another frustration — state unemployment websites crashing because of high traffic.

From Oregon to New York and Washington, D.C., officials and Twitter users have highlighted the problem after the mass closing of restaurants, retail stores and other businesses as part of the effort to slow the spread of the virus.

  • In Ohio, more than 48,000 people applied for jobless benefits during the first two days of this week, CBS reported. This is 26 times the amount from the week before.
  • In neighboring Pennsylvania, about 70,000 people sought unemployment aid in a single day — 6 times the total for the entire previous week.
  • In Kentucky, the state’s unemployment assistance site and phone lines went down amid a fourfold surge in applications.
  • Oregon’s unemployment website went down on Monday, just as the state’s governor was announcing a closure of bars and restaurants.
  • New York State on Tuesday received 21,000 calls from people asking about unemployment benefits — a tenfold increase from the week before. Website visits tripled, periodically crashing the system.
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Genna Guglietta said she spent two days trying to apply for unemployment benefits in New York. “The first night I couldn’t even get past logging in,” she told CBS MoneyWatch.

The full scale of layoffs from coronavirus is not yet known. Some 4 million hospitality workers could lose their jobs this summer, according to an estimate from the outplacement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas. The Economic Policy Institute estimates 3 million laid-off workers by this summer. The Travel Industry Association estimates 4.6 million workers in that field alone will lose their jobs this year.

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The number of workers filing for unemployment could exceed the 660,000 a week reached during the Great Recession and even the 695,000 hit during the recession of 1982, said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM, a global accounting consultancy.

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“Given the three shocks—supply, demand, and financial—that are cascading in the real economy as we speak, we are likely to exceed the all-time high sometime in next two months,” Brusuelas said.