The U.S. Department of Labor released figures for April’s unemployment rate on Friday, showing over 20.5 million non-farm workers lost their jobs, with the overall unemployment rate rising to 14.7%. 

Russell Weaver, an economic geographer with Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) Buffalo Co-Lab, predicted data for New York state would show an unemployment rate of around 13%. 

Yates County Commissioner of Social Services Amy Miller reports the current unemployed percentage for Yates County is 12.5%, slightly better than Weaver’s forecast or the national rate.

“According to our database, there are around 1,400 people collecting unemployment,” says Miller. “The county usually has approximately 11,300 people employed. This seems to put us at 12.5 percent unemployment rate.” 

Comparing the current rate to the same time last year and the average annual figure for Yates is a stark contrast.

“In April 2019 our unemployment rate was 3.4. The average for the year was approximately 3.6%,” said Miller.

Weaver says, “Some analysts have speculated that the conventional unemployment rate might have reached Great Depression levels. In addition to the ‘official’ unemployment rate, the April data will also give a sense of what is sometimes called the ‘true’ unemployment rate, which includes workers who are marginally attached to the labor force and who are working part time for economic reasons.

 

New process to certify benefits from previous weeks. 

Sarah Taddeo, of Gannett, reports thousands of New Yorkers haven’t certified their unemployment benefits correctly. The New York Labor Department is trying to help them catch up.

A new online process will help claimants certify benefits from previous weeks, allowing approximately 470,000 New Yorkers to move forward in their unemployment process.

Meanwhile, many claimants say they still haven’t seen their benefits, despite claiming correctly for weeks.

The state Department of Labor launched an online process this week by which claimants can certify unemployment benefits for past weeks, days after saying thousands of New Yorkers were not certifying their benefits correctly. 

The department has identified over 470,000 people with complete applications who missed the opportunity to certify for previous weeks, said Commissioner Roberta Reardon Wednesday.

If they’d certified, they would have received an estimated $480 million in benefits. Now, they’ll have a way to access those funds. 

Claimants who have yet to certify for past unemployment weeks will be getting an email from the department informing them of their missing weeks and explaining how to certify for those weeks online, she said. If you don’t have an email on file, the department will call or send a letter.

Typically the only way to handle back paid certifications is over the phone, Reardon said, but the department is trying to reduce the load on its call center workforce. The change comes as many unemployed New Yorkers insist they’ve been following the instructions on weekly certification since they applied for benefits, and yet haven’t seen their funds. 

To certify your benefits each week, go to www.labor.ny.gov/signin, click “Unemployment Services” and click “Claim Benefits,” or “Certify to Claim your Weekly Benefits Here.”

You should certify for the previous week’s unemployment starting on a Sunday; for example, if you were unemployed Monday through Friday, you would claim benefits for that week on the following Sunday, or any time that following week, according to the Department of Labor’s website.

More than $5.8 billion in unemployment benefits has been released in unemployment to New Yorkers since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.