CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As more cases of coronavirus continue to pop up across the state of North Carolina, more people continue to try to file unemployment claims with the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses across the country have been forced to temporarily shut down. As a result, employees have been furloughed and terminated.
Zahava Thornton, a co-owner of Poza Salon in Charlotte, said she and her colleagues made the decision to close the salon last week.
“Within a 24 hour window we went from being busy and ‘life is great’ to shutting our doors. It’s just strange. It’s very strange,” said Thornton.
The salon co-owner said she’s been trying to contact the North Carolina Department of Commerce about an issue with the salon’s employee account number. She said her employees won’t be able to collect unemployment until the issue is resolved. Unfortunately, Thornton has had trouble trying to contact the state agency.
“We have been trying for a week to get a hold of someone. Just to get through on the phone line is near impossible,” Thornton explained.
She and many other North Carolinians are experiencing the same issue. Because so many people are trying to file for unemployment, the Department of Commerce is being flooded with calls.
Tim Artz, a resident of Landis, North Carolina, said he was let go from his job working for Gildan. He has been trying to file for unemployment, but can’t get through on the state phone lines.
“Can’t pay the power bill, can’t pay the water bill, can’t buy food. can’t pay the gas bill,” Artz told WBTV in a phone interview Wednesday.
Charmagne Walker, a Charlotte resident, said she was working for Johnson & Wales, but is currently out of a job because of the pandemic. She too said she has had trouble contacting the state about filing for unemployment.
“I feel like my back is up against the wall, because like I said, I have no husband. I have nobody to rely on. I have me,” said Walker in a phone conversation with WBTV.
Larry Parker, the government and public relations manager for the North Carolina Department of Commerce Division of Employment Security, corresponded with WBTV via email Wednesday.
“We are working as quickly as possible to assist customers. This is an unprecedented event and we are all hands on deck here,” wrote Parker in an email to WBTV.
Parker said that from March 16 through Wednesday morning, the Division of Employment Security had processed 166,172 claims. The bulk of those claims are related to COVID-19, according to Parker.
He said people who are trying file for unemployment should continue to try calling the state phone line, but should also try filing a claim online. He said members of the public can also check the COVID-19 FAQ page on the agency’s website.
Parker also encouraged people to submit issues to the North Carolina Department of Commerce using the customer contact form on the department’s website. A link to the form can be found here: https://des.nc.gov/customer-contact-form