SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Workforce Services is seeing a record number of unemployment claims as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact jobs.
The department said it is currently processing nearly as many claims as it received in all of 2019. It saw a 2,400 percent increase in the week of March 22-28. With the surge, the department is also seeing an increase in phone calls and questions via its online chat tool, which now have high wait times.
Because of the increase, the department has released online resources for those seeking unemployment insurance and asks that people use these resources before contacting them.
At jobs.utah.gov, the department has provided an overview of the unemployment insurance claim process, along with a list of frequently asked questions on filing a weekly claim.
“We recognize that for many this is the first time they have used our system and want to provide as much guidance as we can as they wait for their claims to be processed," said Unemployment Insurance Division director Kevin Burt.
The department still encourages unemployed Utahns to apply online to file their weekly claim, adding: "if there is an issue or any question about their claim, the Department of Workforce Services will contact them, there is no need for them to contact the department."
The increase in claims filed, the department asks those applying to be patient. It may now take 21-30 days for a claim to be processed instead of the normal 14-21 days, but they reassure that "you will be retroactively paid any applicable weeks once your claim has been processed."
Applicants may initially see a message saying they are "eligible for $0.00/week," but the department says that is normal and will be displayed until they verify work history and wages.