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  • (pleasant tonal music)

  • - [Narrator] As coronavirus closures

  • have put businesses on life support,

  • jobless claims have surged.

  • In some states, more than 20% of the workforce filed claims,

  • but in other states, the share is much lower,

  • and experts say the numbers may still underestimate

  • the scope of people who are out of work

  • trying to access the benefit.

  • - It's taking states a while to process benefits as is,

  • and to add in

  • the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefit,

  • the $600 and the 13 additional weeks.

  • - [Narrator] Here are some of the obstacles

  • holding states up as they try to process

  • the historic number of unemployment claims.

  • (quietly tense orchestral music)

  • Challenge number one, technology.

  • In some states, old technology has slowed down the process.

  • In mid March, Connecticut residents began to overload

  • the state labor department's website with claims.

  • The portal could only handle

  • about 8000 benefit applications at a time.

  • Once the problem was resolved, claims increased sharply.

  • A spokesperson from Connecticut's Labor Department

  • said that before the spike in claims,

  • the state was already in the final stages

  • of moving to the cloud.

  • Connecticut is far from the only state

  • with technology issues.

  • The New York State Department of Labor

  • had to add computer servers to address the flood of claims.

  • The department's unemployment claims hotline

  • received 8.2 million calls in the last week of March

  • compared with 50,000 in a typical week.

  • The website recorded 3.4 million visits

  • compared with 350,000 normally.

  • - Only 16 states have upgraded off of their 1970s

  • COBOL mainframes entirely.

  • Then there are a few states

  • who've upgraded their benefits systems,

  • four states who've upgraded their benefits system,

  • three states have upgraded their tax system,

  • but for the most part, states are still running

  • on pretty old technology.

  • - [Narrator] Challenge number two, experience.

  • Some states also lack experience

  • in setting up the systems for the new unemployment funds.

  • According to Evermore, some elements

  • of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program

  • are based on the disaster program.

  • - Disaster unemployment assistance

  • has been around since 1974.

  • Some states are used to using the system.

  • States that have a lot of natural disasters

  • have implemented disaster unemployment assistance before,

  • states like Florida, Louisiana,

  • they get hit with a lot of hurricanes, the Carolinas, right,

  • Texas, but some states haven't had

  • a lot of natural disasters.

  • Arizona, for example,

  • hasn't had a natural disaster declaration since 1983,

  • and coincidentally, my colleague just found out

  • that they won't have their computers up and running

  • to process these benefits for 18 weeks.

  • - [Narrator] Challenge number three, financial pressure.

  • Some states, like Massachusetts,

  • are experiencing additional financial pressures.

  • The new federal unemployment programs

  • make up to 39 weeks of unemployment insurance

  • available to previously uncovered groups like gig workers.

  • The federal government pays an additional $600 per week

  • for each successful claim through July 31st,

  • but states are still on the hook

  • for standard unemployment payments.

  • Those payments range from $213 a week in Mississippi

  • to about $550 a week in Massachusetts.

  • - [Michelle] The average weekly benefit amount

  • in the United States is about $370 a week.

  • The average weekly wage in the United States is around $970,

  • so that $600 represents that gap to get workers to 100%.

  • - [Narrator] The standard benefits are paid

  • by state unemployment trust funds,

  • and some states have drawn down their trust fund balances

  • sharply between February and April.

  • For example, Massachusetts spent more than half

  • of its unemployment trust fund balance in that period.

  • A spokesman for the Massachusetts Labor Department

  • said the state is committed to making sure workers

  • continue to receive the benefits they deserve.

  • Several states have burned through their cash

  • and may seek additional loans

  • from the federal government to stay afloat.

  • More than 20 states aren't positioned to pay out enough

  • in unemployment benefits in the event of a recession

  • according to the Journal's analysis

  • of labor department data. (pleasant tonal music)

(pleasant tonal music)

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B1 中級 美國腔

為什麼一些州在支付失業金方面舉步維艱 WSJ (Why Some States Are Struggling to Pay Unemployment Claims WSJ)

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    洪子雯 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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