About 3.3 million Americans, including 42,000 Marylanders, filed for unemployment benefits last week, surpassing the previous record from 1982 by more than four-and-half times.
The Labor Department's data from last week is one of the first official signs of how many people are suddenly out of work: last week’s claims are nearly five times the amount of those at the peak of the Great Recession, according to NPR.
“Nearly every state providing comments cited the COVID-19 virus impacts,” a department spokesperson said in a statement. “States continued to cite services industries broadly, particularly accommodation and food services.”
Residents in Baltimore County, Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County respectively filed the most claims.
In just one week, our team at @MD_Labor received over 42,000 new unemployment insurance claims. This is truly unprecedented. As many customers face longer wait times than usual and have difficulty accessing our website, we ask for your patience and understanding. pic.twitter.com/okAKQEIM4k
— MD Department of Labor (@MD_Labor) March 26, 2020
“Our department is making numerous changes to help accommodate this significant surge including adding additional servers, expanding call centers, using shared email addresses, putting detailed FAQ's on our website to answer questions, and more,” Fallon Pearre, a Maryland Department of Labor spokeswoman, said in a statement.
“As many customers face longer wait times than usual and have difficulty accessing our website, we ask for their patience and understanding,” she said.
Pearre said that the department is expecting delays in distributing benefits due to the volume of new claims. People usually receive benefits within 21 days after a claim is filed, she said.
The department is suspending two usual requirements for unemployment benefits: any resident whose workplace has closed because of the pandemic, even if they were not formally laid off, may apply, and they do not have to be actively searching for a new job.
Pearre said she encourages applicants to file online either early in the morning or late in the evening for faster speeds. Residents can file at http://mdunemployment.com.