The Connecticut Department of Labor said unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic are at least 20 times higher than normal, according to department officials.
The labor department in Conn. has seen over six months worth of claims be filed in just one week.
"Right now, the numbers we are talking about are through a pandemic situation," said deputy commissioner Daryle Dudzinski. "No department of labor throughout the country has ever seen these types of numbers."
Dudzinski said the numbers show no sign of slowing and the department is behind in processing new claims.
"We're doing the very best we possibly can. We are behind, we are at least three weeks behind at this point," Dudzinski said.
As a result of the high number of claims, the department is asking residents to use its automated system to get claims and benefits filed quicker.
"Individuals who are laid off will be getting their checks a lot quicker, so I want to urge use to please use that process," said Kurt Westby, the department's commissioner.
The department is going to be looking at automation so any new claims processed will also make sure to retroactively pay for any previous weeks that a worker is owed, Dudzinski said.
Unemployed workers will receive their benefits faster if they enroll through direct deposit. If a claimant does not select direct deposit, they will receive their payment on a debit card, but that process takes an additional 10 days.
"We are urging our citizens to use direct deposit providing their banking information so we can get the monies to their bank account within two business days," Dudzinski said.
A month ago, the department was able to process claims between one and three business days, but now it is taking three weeks for those claims to be processed. Claimants will not be able to file weekly claims until the new claim is first processed. At that point, the department hopes to retroactively pay for the missed weeks while waiting for the claim processing.
Department officials said because of the high number of claims currently being processed, the department is not able to offer customers telephone assistance on their claims but said the automated website for new claims is available 24/7.