Despite major delays in the processing of unemployment claims and disbursement of aid to jobless New Yorkers, the governor said the state has gotten more aid to more of its residents than others across the country.
“We have done far more far faster than, I think, any other state in the country,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said during his daily news briefing Thursday. Since the crisis began, the state has paid out approximately $2.2 billion to 1.1 million New Yorkers, according to the New York State Department of Labor.
“The number of people who have gotten assistance is mind-boggling,” Cuomo said. While the governor said he feels “good about” the aid the state has been able to provide, he acknowledged that it was of little comfort to those still waiting to finalize their applications. “For a person there’s only one check that matters, and that’s their check, and I get that.”
Locally, 29,375 Long Islanders filed new jobless claims last week, a notable drop from the 59,526 residents who filed for unemployment during the week prior, according to a state Labor Department report released Thursday.
In total, more than 204,000 Long Islanders have filed jobless claims in the last five weeks.
Across the state, 207,172 New Yorkers filed benefit claims during the week ended April 18, bringing the total of New Yorkers who have filed up to 1.4 million in the last five weeks.
In addressing complaints from New Yorkers over the pace at which claims had been processed, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa said the state has led the way in addressing the economic hardship of its residents compared with other states.
Citing the $2.2 billion the state has paid out to residents, DeRosa said many trail New York, including California, which has paid out $975 million, Texas ($400 million) and Florida ($143 million).
"We have gone above and beyond in terms of ramping up," she said.
Additionally, DeRosa said that since the state revamped its unemployment claim process it has been able to get a handle on the backlog of claimants across the state. Now, most of the backlog in the state is made up of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, claims.
"That’s where the majority of these complaints are coming from," she said.
PUA, a federal aid program that came out of the CARES Act and was signed into law on March 27, extends unemployment benefits to those traditionally ineligible for normal jobless benefits, such as gig workers, contractors and the self-employed, among many others.
Even on that front, the state has been moving as fast as it can, DeRosa said. The backlogs were largely due to federal rules that required applicants to be rejected for regular unemployment before they could apply for PUA, state officials said.
"The majority of the backlog is from that category of people. And just to give you further context, California isn’t even rolling out their ability to apply for PUA until April 28 and Illinois not until May 11," she said.