PHOENIX - New numbers from the Department of Economic Security, show more than 72,000 people applied for unemployment insurance in the past week alone, the fifth week after the state's COVID-19 response began.
As more and more people file for unemployment, the online system has had problems keeping up.
A week ago, FOX 10 reported on problems those filing for unemployment have experienced, with the Department of Economic Security informing many of the hundreds of thousands of filers they needed to fax back documents on one-day notice.
However, the state only had two fax numbers, so the lines were jammed all day, every day, by the thousands hoping to receive benefits.
"Like literally a day or two they needed the letter back," Stephanie Pick said at the time.
"I’ve lost my mind a few times, believe me, a lot of cursing has occurred," Brenda Anderson said.
Now, the state has made changes to make it easier to file. On Monday, the UPS store on Camelback was a lot quieter, and the frenetic pace of the fax machines has stopped.
Officials with the Department of Economic Security say they’ve added more lines, and switched to a cloud-based fax system, so the busy signal is gone for everyone.
"We don’t have to stay late to do them, or have anyone come in early just to sit and do faxes," said Robert Schenberg with UPS Store.
Schenberg says it’s night and day from the backlog before.
"Yes, we’ve only had one or two there that were behind, but everything went through as soon as we sent it through," said Schenberg.
Stephanie Carrol is one of the thousands who faxed in claims. She owns Bringing The Brands, a business that connects branding opportunities to non-profits. With no events right now, business dried up.
"It’s challenging with two children. We're fortunate we're not in a position where we have to start tremendously worrying, but not having a steady income is a concern," said Carrol.
As a self-employed person, Carrol believed the state's message that she would be able to apply for unemployment. Five weeks on, however, self employed people still can’t access funds.
On Monday, officials with DES would not say if they have a timeline on when the new program would be up and running.
"They should have been better prepare for it," said Carrol. "If the federal government wasn’t prepared, at least build the platform on the website for those that are self employed."
State officials say if people receive a letter asking for documents, but gives a short deadline or a deadline that has already passed, ignore that. Officials say just get it in, and they will handle it once they receive it.
The Director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security once again denied FOX 10's request for an interview on Monday.
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