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'Claim volume has exploded': Idaho unemployment claims skyrocket amid coronavirus outbreak

The Idaho Department of Labor says unemployment claims jumped 1,200% last week.

BOISE, Idaho — As businesses and organizations shuffle operations or shut down completely during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, workers now without a job are turning to unemployment benefits for help. 

“It's been all hands on deck,” Idaho Department of Labor spokesperson Leah Reeder said. “As you can imagine the claim volume has exploded.”

On Thursday, the department released new numbers showing a total of more than 13,300 new claims last week, a 1,200% increase over the previous week.

And the number of filings is continuing to increase this week. On Tuesday alone, the department saw nearly 4,000 claims.

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”Anyone can file an unemployment claim,” Reeder said. “When you file a claim, the claim is locked down for one year and depending on how much you're monetarily eligible for you will be given a weekly benefit amount and a total benefit amount.” 

Depending on how much you made, the weekly benefit amount is anywhere from $72 to $448 dollars a week.

“The first payment is about two-and-a-half weeks from when they filed,” Reeder said. 

With the increased volume in calls and questions, the department encourages anyone in need of benefits to not wait to speak with them, but go ahead and file. 

“Don’t wait to speak with us if you're having a hard time getting through and if there are any issues with your claim, then we'll give you a call and sort it out,” Reeder said. 

Idaho coronavirus info: 

Map of confirmed Idaho cases | COVID-19 resources | Testing sites| School closings | Building, venue and event closings | Full COVID-19 coverage 

The last time the Department of Labor saw this many claims was more than 10  years ago, during the recession.

“During the recession, we did see numbers like this, but the difference was it happened slowly where this has literally happened over a week's time period,” Reeder said. 

Anyone who still has a job, but whose hours have been cut recently, can also file for unemployment and potentially receive benefits. 

People filing for benefits can take two steps that will help speed up the process. The first is to read the answers to frequently asked questions about filing for unemployment benefits before attempting to file online. Pulling together the last two years of work history beforehand will also help speed up the process.

As of Wednesday, Reeder told KTVB, the website was not experiencing any problems. 

Reeder also advises people applying to do so on a laptop or desktop computer, not your phone or tablet and if you're having trouble filing online, you can also file with someone over the phone.

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