Gov. Baker Gives Unemployment Updates

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Governor Charlie Baker announced updates in the state's unemployment system as it faces an overwhelming number of new cases during the pandemic.

Baker said a new unemployment program for those who normally wouldn't apply, including those who are self-employed and "gig economy workers," is set to start next month.

Baker said the Labor Department has over 140,000 new unemployment claims since last week. Prior to the pandemic, there were about seven to 10,000 unemployment claims a month. He said customer service staff have had to field over 60,000 calls regarding unemployment.

"These numbers, obviously, are staggering...the sheer volume of this new influx means we have to do more, and we know that," Baker said in his update.

According to Baker, the Department of Unemployment Assistance is paying over 250,000 claimants. He said there will be an additional 600 dollar unemployment assistance to those applying and currently receiving starting Thursday. It will apply as of March 29 until the end of July.

There are currently 16,790 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Massachusetts.

WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports

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