With thousands of people out of work as businesses across the country close amid the coronavirus pandemic, many are left seeking unemployment benefits. The program, which is jointly run by the federal government and states, provides cash benefits to eligible workers "who become unemployed through no fault of their own and meet certain other eligibility requirements," according to the U.S. Department of Labor's website.
The Department of Labor recommends that individuals first connect with their state's unemployment insurance program as soon as possible after becoming unemployed. The Department of Labor has a list of all 50 states' offices, with phone numbers and links to websites where individuals can find more information. That can be found by clicking here.
Individuals should also file their claim in the state in which they work. For those who work out of state or work in multiple states, it is advised that they contact the state unemployment insurance agency where they live for further guidelines and information to file their claim.
When filing a claim, individuals will be asked for certain information, such as addresses, telephone number, dates of their former employment, employer's information (name, address, phone number), social security number, and more.
Although it typically takes between two to three weeks after filing a claim to receive a benefit check, the increase in numbers may cause further delay.
As of this week, a poll found that as many as 18 percent of American workers had either lost their jobs or suffered cut hours as a result of the devastating toll the coronavirus is having on the workforce and economy.
As a result, Politco reported that 15,000 people applied for unemployment benefits in New Jersey on Monday alone, which was "a twelvefold increase over normal levels." Though New Jersey was far from the only state to see the heavy increase in people seeking unemployment benefits. In Connecticut, nearly 8,000 people applied over the weekend, Rhode Island officials on Tuesday reported a five-day rise in claims, and in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services told Sen. Rob Portman that the state reported a nearly sevenfold increase, with more than 45,000 workers applying for unemployment.
Still, American's are being encouraged to apply, with Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, telling CNBC Make It that "in this emergency, I would not discourage anyone from trying to apply for benefits, even if they wouldn't have applied before."