Google has created an application portal to help the state of New York deal with a historic surge in unemployment filings. The company said it could potentially bring a similar service to other states.
"Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the New York State Department of Labor's unemployment insurance filing system has faced an unprecedented increase in volume — with peak weeks seeing a 16,000% increase in phone calls and a 1,600% increase in web traffic, compared to a typical week," the New York Department of Labor said in a press release on Thursday.
The site, which is expected to be accessible Friday morning and is supported by Google's cloud infrastructure, should be able to handle a "high volume of uses," allowing users to save incomplete applications and pick up where they left off. It can be reached via smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo first mentioned a partnership on Monday. They're calling the effort "Tech Surge and working with other companies including Verizon and Deloitte.
As New York has become the center of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., with over 800 deaths on Thursday, the economic picture has also become dire. More than 450,000 New Yorkers have tried to apply for unemployment benefits in the past three weeks. Cuomo said in recent press conferences that the surge in activity has crashed the Department of Labor's website and overloaded call center workers.
Google is offering its technical resources in numerous areas. The company has provided officials with websites for general coronavirus information, home-education and global social distancing data. Affiliate company Verily partnered with the state of California and health officials to build a website for COVID-19 test screening.
Google on Thursday also launched a search feature that provides links to federal unemployment resources in the U.S., with plans to extend it to the state level.
A Google spokesperson said the company is partnering with several states on service delivery issues that it hopes will include unemployment insurance processing.
"We continue to work with local, state, and federal agencies on a number of projects to help them better serve citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic," a representative from Google's cloud division said in an email.
Neither the Labor Department nor Google immediately responded to requests for comment about whether applicants would be required to use a Google account or login during the process.