INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne said Thursday numbers are telling the story of what is happening to thousands of Indiana families now trying to pay bills during a pandemic that put them out of work.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting closure of many businesses has resulted in Indiana's unemployment claims skyrocketing to unprecedented levels.
Last week alone 146,000 Hoosiers applied for unemployment benefits. That's the highest week of claims the Department of Workforce Development has seen since 2009 when 28,000 Hoosiers submitted claims.
Payne said claim totals around 150,000 a week may now be the new normal during the coronavirus pandemic.
With such unprecedented claims, the department is adding 77 new staffers to take those unemployment claims and opening up a new system where Hoosiers can apply over the phone and via the internet, which is the fastest way to get processed.
If you are applying for benefits, the federal government just changed the rules to allow more people to apply for unemployment. The list now includes independent contractors, freelancers and gig economy workers like Uber and Lyft drivers. Because that federal rule just changed, Indiana computers will automatically deny you, but there is a plan. The state will keep those applicants in a holding pattern until the state hits reset, keeping those Hoosiers from having to reapply.