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Louisiana Unemployment Claims Are Up Nearly 1,700 Percent

Betsy Shepherd
Businesses are closed along Bourbon Street and throughout New Orleans in response to the spread of coronavirus. March 19, 2020.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission has expanded its staff to help process the surge of unemployment claims they have received following the coronavirus shutdown.

Compared to last week, there’s been a nearly 1,700 percent increase in the number of claims.

Eva Dejoie, the secretary of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, said their call center is working around the clock to process the 30,000 unemployment claims that were filed this week. That’s a stark increase from the 1,700 people that filed the week prior.

“I would encourage you to wait until non-peak hours, during the middle of the night or early in the morning, because the sheer volume of individuals we have filing is slowing the system down,” Dejoie said.

The maximum amount of money workers can receive in benefits is $988 dollars a month.

Dejoie says checks for some applicants could go out as early as next week.

Workers who need to apply for unemployment can do so at

Correction: An ealier version of this story contained the incorrect number of claims filed last week.

Betsy Shepherd covers environmental news and is producing a podcast on the Civil Rights Movement in small-town Louisiana. She won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for a feature she reported on Louisiana’s 2016 floods.

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