CONNECTICUT — The number of Connecticut residents who have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic broke out is up to 250,000 claims, Gov. Ned Lamont said.
The state Department of Labor has processed 90,000 of the 250,000 claims that have all been submitted in the three weeks but a five-week backlog remains.
The number of claims recently received far exceeds the amount the agency typically receives in one year, Lamont added.
“While the numbers are staggering, they are not unique to Connecticut. Unemployment claims are up in record numbers across the country, and everyone is doing their best to process claims as quickly as possible. Nationwide, approximately 6,648,000 seasonally adjusted initial claims were filed for the week ending March 28, an increase of 3,341,000 from the previous week. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series,” state officials said in a news release.
“The agency is working diligently to serve its residents and appreciates the public’s patience as it works to process the thousands of claims that have been filed as a result of the pandemic,” Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said in a news release. “We want to let people know that although it will take some time, all eligible claims will be processed, paid, and retroactive to the date they were filed.”
Agency employees are working overtime and weekends to ensure benefits are paid as quickly as possible. Westby said the estimated backlog is approximately five weeks. More than 80 employees are processing claims – a significant increase from the 20 typically processing new applications – and additional staff will continue to be trained to assist in the upcoming days and weeks.
To speed up the processing of their claims, unemployed residents who have not yet filed should:
· Visit www.filectui.com
· Click the link that says “For quicker payment of unemployment benefit, please follow these instructions”
· Information will be provided on filing claims as a “Temporary Shutdown” option and provide guidance on entering a return to work date.
For residents that have already filed a claim, Westby noted that it is very important they check their email (including junk and spam folders) daily for updated messages from CTDOL. Messages may include next steps or a request that claimants log back onto their claim since following these instructions will help speed up processing. (To sign up for free, local breaking news alerts from more than 100 Connecticut communities, click here.)
See also: CT Coronavirus Updates: Town-By-Town Numbers Reveal Big Increase
For additional information read the list of Frequently Asked Questions the agency created related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the CARES Act that was approved by Congress last week, CTDOL is also tasked with administering several federal stimulus unemployment benefit programs. The agency is fortunate to be part of the ReEmployUSA five-state consortium made up of Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. Although the state joined the consortium to build a new benefits system more quickly, it is now lending its expertise to help develop necessary programming that will provide the federal benefit programs more quickly.
“Our employees appreciate the support we have received from the public, the Governor’s Office, and other agencies, including technical support from BEST and human resource help from the Department of Administrative Services. The agency has helped people survive economic recessions, but this is the first pandemic we have faced when providing unemployment benefits. We know bills need to be paid and how important it is to provide this economic lifeline to our residents.”
State reminds businesses that small businesses can apply for federal assistance under the recently adopted CARES Act
Lamont, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman, and Department of Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez are encouraging small businesses and sole proprietors to reach out directly to their banks and credit unions to apply for the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The program was recently created by Congress as part of the CARES Act to respond to the nationwide COVID-19 crisis.
Administered by the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), the program authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses that keep all their employees on the payroll for eight weeks and can use the money for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Seventy-five percent of the money must be used for payroll.
Businesses and sole proprietorships should contact their banks and credit unions directly to access the loans. They should also closely review the information and application form for borrowers on the U.S. Treasury Department’s website prior to contacting their banks and credit unions. This will help identify the documents needed to collected and present during the application process.
Commissioner Perez is reminding those involved that since this is a brand new program that is still under development by the federal government, it may take a bit longer than anticipated as the first several days are expected to be very busy.
Additional information about PPP can be read on SBA’s website.
This article originally appeared on the Milford Patch