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'We’ve never experienced anything like it' | Unemployment spikes to record high

A record breaking 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment, with 200,000 claims in North Carolina alone.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In the face of the economic struggles due to the Coronavirus, a record breaking number of more than 3.3 million Americans have filed for unemployment. 

Several viewers reached out to WCNC Charlotte to share the struggles they’ve faced while trying to get their unemployment benefits.

 “At first I couldn’t even get on the website it would just kick you off immediately. Then once I was able to do that it gave me some strange weird error message and it’s not allowing me to register,” says one local woman who was recently laid off.

A spokesperson for the State Department of Commerce says they had to beef up their servers to meet the online need, but even at full staff they are only used to processing about 3,000 unemployment claims a week. Since last Monday, North Carolina has seen more than 200,000 claims.

UNC Charlotte Economics Professor John Connaughton says these are unprecedented times.

“This is completely uncharted territory. Quite frankly we don’t know how to read that type of a spike in unemployment numbers. We’ve never experienced anything like that before.“

RELATED: How relief is coming for small businesses in NC impacted by COVID-19

Last week, both  North Carolina and South Carolina governors waived some requirements typically required to receive unemployment benefits. The governors made the changes as they shutdown restaurant dining rooms and other non-nonessential businesses, many of which have had to layoff or scale back their workforce.

"I know many employers will want to hire many of their employees back when this pandemic subsides," said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper,who made the following changes to his state's application process:

  1. The removal of the one-week waiting period typically required before someone who lost a job can apply for benefits.
  2. Those unemployed and seeking benefits will not be required to seek additional work during the outbreak.
  3. Employees who lose their job, or in certain cases have their orders reduced, because of the COVID-19 coronavirus are eligible to apply for benefits.
  4. Benefit applications will not need to interview in-person and instead can be interviewed as a part of the application process online or by phone.
  5. Businesses with workers seeking unemployment will not have losses counted against them.

RELATED: North Carolina made these changes Tuesday to unemployment requirements, restaurant operations

Recent applications suggest the reality is already outweighing early projections. Just last week, some economic experts predicted North Carolina could lose up to 100,000 jobs, half of the number of applicants seen just this week.

RELATED: 'This is going to be a big deal’ | Economic expert: NC could lose up to 100,000 jobs due to COVID-19

North Carolina's unemployment office encourages those who are applying for benefits to do so online, take your time and carefully read everything to avoid making any mistakes.

If you run into any issues calling the customer service line may require a long wait, but you can always fill out a Customer Contact form online to have someone get back to you. 

Here is where you can apply online for benefits: