NC adds people, capacity to handle surge in unemployment claims

Posted April 1, 2020 2:31 p.m. EDT
Updated April 1, 2020 10:47 p.m. EDT

With hundreds of thousands suddenly out of work, forced to stay home by the statewide coronavirus shutdown, the North Carolina Employment Security Office has been inundated with phone calls and seen online services swamped and stalled.

The state is used to processing 3,000 claims a week, but with the coronavirus-related shutdowns of many businesses, the Division of Employment Security is getting about 20,000 per day.

On Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced he would add 50 people to manage those calls.

New unemployment claims in NC

On March 18, the N.C. Division of Employment Security began sporadically releasing details on the number of cumulative unemployment claims filed since March 16, most of them triggered by layoffs related to the novel coronavirus. See how those numbers compare to cumulative new claims filed during a similar time period in 2019 and the 2009 recession, acccording to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, through July 6, 2020, the last date WRAL collected the data.

Source: N.C. DES, U.S. Department of Labor
Graphic: Tyler Dukes, WRAL

To file for unemployment benefits, the state encourages most people to start out online.

The number to call for people filing a claim is 888-737-0259. The number for employers to call is 866-278-3822.

There are three call centers across the state, taking calls daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Any calls in the queue by 5 p.m. will get an answer that day.

In addition to the call center, the state is adding servers daily to accommodate the increased volume of claims.

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