By Kristi O’Connor | April 7, 2020 at 3:16 PM EDT – Updated April 7 at 7:23 PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Members of North Carolina’s House Select Committee on COVID-19 received an update on the status of the state’s unemployment applications Tuesday.
Members of the committee’s economic support working group participated in the meeting via conference call to maintain social distancing.
According to Assistant Secretary of the Department of Employment Security Lockhart Taylor, the state has received about 450,000 unemployment claims in the last three weeks. About 388,000 of them are related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the DES website.
To put it into perspective, Taylor says in February of 2009, when unemployment cases were beginning to rise because of the recession, the state took 158,000 unemployment applications.
He was pleased with the systems capacity to accept 450,000 claims in three weeks, but he acknowledged there were still issues within the system.
Taylor says the most common issue they received inquiries about were related to usernames and passwords. He said in many cases, a person who previously filed for unemployment already has a username and password.
However, when attempting to reset the password, the new information is sent to the email address they previously registered with. In many cases, the users no longer have access to the email account.
To help users file for unemployment more easily, Taylor says the state has opened a third call center. The third call center was originally staffed with 50 people. The state will soon have 200 people answering phone calls from people struggling to file for unemployment. Taylor says the employees in the call center will be able to reset usernames and passwords and file claims by phone.
In addition to state unemployment benefits, you may qualify for federal unemployment benefits under the CARES ACT. There are three unemployment programs under the CARES ACT. You may receive an additional $600 per week from federal benefits, on top of state unemployment benefits.
There will be two separate applications for state and federal unemployment benefits. You may apply for state benefits now. State leaders are still working on launching the federal unemployment portal.
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