State Department of Labor still proving very tough to contact

As 13 Investigates continues to look into the problems with the Department of Labor, our team wanted to share just how many times we’ve contacted DOL.

Each time 13 Investigates reports on a problem someone had with DOL, more people will contact 13 Investigates for help with their unemployment claim.

For every story that 13 Investigates airs, they contact State Labor for comment.

Just like everyone else, the pandemic tested New York’s unemployment system. However, DOL said they were continually updating their phone systems to best serve New Yorkers.

The pressure eased as cases dropped. On Feb 17, 2022, DOL sent a statement stating,

"The New York State Department of Labor remains committed to connecting unemployed New Yorkers with the assistance they need— paying out more than $104 billion unemployment assistance to nearly five million people since the beginning of the pandemic. Since Governor Hochul lifted the hiring freeze, we have added more employees to assist in our call centers—which remain fully staffed. Thanks to these efforts and continued enhancements to our online portal, answer times are now averaging about a minute and a half from the time a person enters the queue—with roughly 100,000 calls coming into The Department each week. As for factors causing people to not be able to get through on the phone, the New York State Department of Labor does not comment on speculation."

Even though DOL says they are fully staffed, the calls to our station continue to come in.

13 Investigates received a statement from the Department of Labor on Tuesday, March 15 around 5:30 p.m, hours after they emailed them for response on this story.

DOL said:

"While high call volume due to customers seeking assistance with tax or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance documentation are beginning to decline, the New York State Department of Labor continues to assist New Yorkers and encourage residents to utilize our self-service options. Many calls that come in can be easily remedied using our website chatbot Perkins, which can assist claimants with many needs and reduce call volume."

While many are still having trouble claiming their unemployment, a lot of people are getting jobs.

New preliminary unemployment numbers from DOL show positive growth for the state.

Watch the video of Tessa Bentulan’s story to see the latest data.