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ND Governor says state is overwhelmed with unemployment filings

(KVLY)
Published: Apr. 1, 2020 at 6:48 PM CDT
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Unemployment phone lines in every state in the country are swamped and websites are crashing.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum said in his daily media briefing on Wednesday that the state is among those experiencing issues.

The state has seen a surge in unemployment filings due to layoffs caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Governor Burgum, a Republican, said more than 27,000 people have submitted claims in the past two weeks, seven thousand more than all of last year’s total.

“There has to be legitimate reasons that you are no longer unemployed or your hours have been significantly cut. Those [are the] kinds of things to qualify for unemployment insurance,” Carey Fry, the manager for the Workforce Center in Fargo, said.

That strain is impacting North Dakota’s Job Service office. Fry said they’ve already reshuffled employees but they expect to see the number of filings to rise.

The agency recommended the fastest way to file an unemployment claim is by doing it online and to do it immediately after you’re laid off.

“Be completely honest and provide all information asked of you,” Fry said.

While at first the majority of those applying for unemployment were working in the restaurant and hospitality sector, Fry said they’re receiving more from the manufacturing sector.

Soon those who are self-employed or file a 1099 will be able to get unemployment benefits.

“They shouldn't rush out and apply for unemployment insurance, because the system is not ready to handle those claims yet,” Sarah Arntson, communications officer for Job Service ND, said. “And I think that's where a lot of frustration is coming in.”

The new federal programs were signed into law last week by President Donald Trump in the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill. Yet, the state said it will take weeks before they’re implemented in North Dakota.

“Calling in to ask that question like, when is it going to happen? What do I need to do to make sure I get that? Those are questions that you are really not going to get an answer to now,” Fry said.

Arntson said the hold up is waiting for guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor.