More than 28,000 Long Islanders filed for jobless benefits last week, the lowest number of new claims since the week ending March 28.
During the week ended Monday, 28,592 Island residents filed for unemployment, a 1,161% increase over the same week in 2019. Over the last six weeks, more than 233,000 Long Islanders have filed jobless claims, with the highest single week of claims reaching 59,526 the week ended April 11.
Across the state, 222,040 New Yorkers filed jobless claims last week.
In total, more than 1.6 million New Yorkers have filed for unemployment over the last six weeks, hitting a single week peak of 399,015 new claims during the week ended April 11.
“It’s unfortunate but it’s not unexpected,” said John A. Rizzo, chief economist for the Long Island Association business group. He pointed to COVID-19 statistics as a place to draw hope. “The good news is that the death rate and the case rate is going down.”
Rizzo said that while official unemployment rate numbers for April won't be available for several weeks, it’s likely Long Island's unemployment rate has soared.
“I think right now we’re already in the 10 to 15% range,” Rizzo said. “As the economy opens in the second quarter, that will tick down.”
An unemployment rate of less than 4% — considered to be full employment by most economists — has been common on the Island over the last year.
The New York Labor Department said it has paid out more than $3.1 billion in jobless aid to more than 1.4 million New Yorkers since the start of the crisis, though many on the Island and throughout the state have complained they have been waiting for nearly two months in some cases to be contacted by Department of Labor staffers.
During a news briefing Wednesday, New York Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said the department has made more than 650,000 phone calls to New Yorkers who have applied for unemployment insurance benefits but been unable to complete their filing.
Last month, in response to overwhelmed phone lines, the Labor Department changed its procedure to a "don't call us, we'll call you" protocol, telling New Yorkers with incomplete jobless claims to expect a call 72 hours after finishing a revamped online application process.
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