People unable to file for unemployment on website after major online traffic increase

Updated: Mar. 19, 2020 at 6:06 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Thousands of people are turning to the state to file for unemployment benefits because of COVID-19.

However, as many are finding out, it’s easier said than done.

The website and phone number go periods of time without working, and some say they are unable to file completely.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Division of Employment Security is aware of the problem.

A spokesperson for the division says they updated their servers to handle the amount of traffic on the website.

DES says they typically handle about 3,000 cases a week, but in the last two days, they’ve received nearly 18,000 claims.

The wait time has left many people feeling uneasy about their future during an already stressful time.

“I was laid off by my employer on Tuesday because of the virus,” said Christine Roberts. “I’m frustrated with the whole process.”

To claim unemployment benefits, you can call the department or file online.

Although, for many people who have called or emailed into the WBTV newsroom, those methods aren’t working.

“I’ve been disconnected by them between 5 and 7 times. I’m unable to log back into the website at all," Roberts said.

When she tries to sign in, she gets redirected to an error message.

The Division of Employment Security says its system has been overwhelmed with the traffic to the site.

Last week, the website’s average online traffic was about 6,000 people a day.

On Wednesday alone, the division says nearly 69,000 people logged onto the website.

The phone systems aren’t always working either.

A WBTV news reporter called that line to test it out.

She was hung up on from the system after a few minutes after an automated message told her it was going to be longer than an hour wait.

“I’m concerned about being able to take care of my family,” Roberts said.

On top of all of this, Roberts cares for her two elderly parents.

She was eventually able to file her claim, but then found out it was rejected. Now, she can’t get through to anybody to find out why they say she’s ineligible.

“I was unable to get through," Roberts said. "I haven’t been able to talk to anybody about what more is needed.”

So what is DES doing right now? The office is ramping up its staffing capabilities, including work on weekends and extra hours to process these claims.

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