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Arkansas unemployment claims are up 66,000 during coronavirus pandemic

On Saturday afternoon, Gov. Hutchinson said unemployment claims in Arkansas are up by 66,000 with 8,000 in the queue.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In a press conference on Saturday, April 4, Governor Asa Hutchinson said that unemployment claims in Arkansas are up by 66,000 with 8,000 in the queue.

"You can see how they're working those claims through and the system is starting to work better," Hutchinson said.

The governor also said that on Wednesday, the claim center received over 300,000 calls. Fifty-four employees have been added to the call centers.

On March 28, Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said they are upgrading their capabilities to handle increased volume and they're expanding the website so that it's available seven days a week. He said the glitches have been fixed and you should now be able to file online at ezarc.adws.arkansas.gov.

The hotline is also available Monday through Friday at 844-908-2178. Starting Monday, line capacity will be increased as well as the number of people answering those phones.

Preston asks that you remain patient because you will get processed. He said it will be back-dated to the day where there was a separation from employment, so don't worry about that.

Those who are self-employed, or have recently had to shut down their business, like hair dressers, athletic trainers, etc., will qualify for unemployment.

Preston also said there is a Bridge Action Loan Program, which is focused on small businesses who need cash immediately. Reach out directly to the Economic Development Commission at arkansasedc.com/covid19 and submit an email.

In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Governor Asa Hutchinson implied that nearly 20,000 people had applied for unemployment in Arkansas since the start of the pandemic.

He said over 9,000 Arkansans applied last week, over 8,000 applied this week, and 700 had applied on Wednesday morning alone.

Hutchinson announced on March 17 that the state would allow Arkansans to apply for unemployment online.

When addressing the unemployment rate on March 22, the governor said even though he estimated up to 10,000 had applied for unemployment at that time, he expected more would have applied if the "systems were working as they should."

He said that the amount of claims filed was something "we have never seen before in my lifetime" and the state's system wasn't equipped to handle the workload.

Hutchinson said that means the state is working diligently to upgrade the state system and has asked the General Assembly for $1.1 million in IT upgrades to do that.

On Wednesday, the governor asked for the public to please be patient. He said they are processing the filings as fast as they can.

If you'd like to get more information on filing for unemployment, you can call 844-908-2178 or visit the website by clicking here.

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