INDIANAPOLIS — With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the ripple effect of business closings, Indiana is seeing a major spike in the number of Hoosiers seeking unemployment benefits.
From Sunday through Tuesday, there have been more than 14,300 claims statewide. The increase is blames on the novel coronavirus, though not every claim is connected to the ongoing public health emergency. By comparison, there were 16,800 claims for the entire month of December.
Hoosiers who do need to file for benefits are being asked not to drive to the nearest WorkOne office and instead to file for unemployment benefits online.
"It's really best to go ahead and file, read the questions carefully, answer them honestly, let us make the decision about eligibility," Josh Richardson, chief of staff for administration at the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, said. "You may be eligible to receive unemployment if your hours are reduced or you lost your job."
"From my approach, the most gut-wrenching thing is having to work with a skeleton crew not knowing what we are looking at from day to day," Sherry Young, a cafe owner, said.
Eligible Hoosiers can receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. The maximum payment is $390 per week.
"I'm having to limit the number of employees that I have which means I have to put others on unemployment," Young said.
So far, officials with the state said the average payment for unemployment benefits has been $296 a week.
Those unable to file an unemployment claim online can call two numbers. The call center is 1-800-891-6499 or 317-232-7560. Wait times could be lengthy so those seeking to file claims are encouraged to do so online if at all possible.