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Idaho Department of Labor 'overloaded with calls' about unemployment benefits

Officials said their phone systems are being overwhelmed with people asking about how to file for unemployment benefits.

BOISE, Idaho — As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the world and impacting the global economy, the Idaho Department of Labor is struggling to keep up with the flood of people calling about unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor urges anyone who needs to file for unemployment benefits to do so online. They said calling their phone lines about the basics of how to do so prevents the agency from helping people with specific filing issues.

"Everything can be done online and most questions can be answered by reviewing the posted material," Jani Revier, the director of the agency, said in a statement. "Our call volume is high and most callers are receiving a busy signal and will not get through."

While Congress recently passed the CAREs Act, which significantly expands unemployment benefits, Revier said it will take some time for Idaho to implement those changes at the state level.

"Help is on the way, and we are working to implement the changes as soon as possible," Revier said. "People need to be patient as we work through the details with our federal partner."

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

The Idaho Department of Labor said that any laid-off workers should go ahead and apply for benefits, even if they're unsure if they qualify. 

If people have any questions about the process, they can visit the state's website, which has videos, FAQs and user guides on how to apply.

Previously, the Idaho Department of Labor announced that over 13,300 claims were filed for unemployment benefits in a single week - a staggering increase of 1,200% from the week before.

A spokesperson for the Department of Labor told KTVB that unemployment benefits range from $72 to $448 dollars a week. They added that the benefits will typically kick in two and half weeks after filing.

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