THE STATE of New York's computer system that processes its unemployment insurance claims crashed under tidal waves of demand on Monday afternoon and for several hours on Tuesday, overwhelmed by online and phone traffic from thousands of jobless workers.
Leo Rosales, a state Department of Labor spokesman, said the system buckled under the workload as up to 10,000 people per hour attempted to file new claims or check on their existing claims.
"It is really unprecedented, the number of calls we're getting per hour," Mr Rosales said, blaming the sudden spike in traffic on "the high unemployment rate, the time of the week, the time of the year and the high number of new claims."
The New York Times reported that, in the week that ended on Boxing Day, 30,161 laid-off workers filed new unemployment benefits claims, up more than 32 per cent over the same week in 2007, and that the number of first-time claims averaged more than 30,000 in each of the prior few weeks. Economists expect the rate of US layoffs to increase in early 2009.
The state Department of Labor had doubled its call center staffing and extended working hours in December to cope with the increased volume of new unemployment claims. The affected computer system was brought back up successfully at about midday on Tuesday. µ
New York Times
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