Unemployment is up so much in North Carolina that the state's Internet site for benefits crashed twice this week under a rush of claims.
The number of people trying to sign up online for new or continuing benefits was as much as triple pre-recession levels Sunday and Monday, the Employment Security Commission said. That volume, together with a phone line problem, overwhelmed the agency's computers and prevented some people from filing claims.
The system was working again by Monday afternoon after the ESC added another server and demand lessened, said ESC spokesman Andy James. The ESC said it had received no complaints Tuesday morning.
The phone line problem was fixed Sunday, when 74,000 people tried to access the system, and the ESC thought the overload problem had been handled as well. But the system failed again Monday when about 55,000 people tried to file.
Eighteen months ago, the Web site might have gotten 23,000 hits on a busy day, James said.
But the recession has pushed the jobless rate in North Carolina to 7.9 percent in November, the last month for which figures are available. That was the highest since October 1983.
The ESC said payment will be delayed about a day to people who couldn't file Sunday. People who couldn't access the system Monday had until 9 p.m. Monday to get their payment the same day they normally would.
North Carolina's ESC has about 300,000 people in its unemployment system and pays about $33 million a week in benefits.