SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Unemployment claims have spiked in the days since the federal government shutdown, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
“We've received, since the shutdown, about 1,300 claims," said Kevin Burt, the department's unemployment services director.
Burt admits the rush over the past two weeks has put a strain on the workers who process the claims.
"These additional 1,300 claims were not expected," Burt said.
Furloughed employees can only start the process over the phone or online. It takes two to three weeks to process a claim.
“Please, be patient, we're going to get to them,” Burt says.
The money to pay the benefits comes from an employer state tax fund — but there's a catch. There's no double-dipping.
"If they are reimbursed and paid retroactively for the time they were not working, any benefits paid during that time period would have to be paid back," Burt said.
During 2018, roughly furlough 5,000 claims were processed each month. There were nearly 9,300 in December. Workers can get benefits for up to 26 weeks.
Burt says the fastest way to apply is online. Here is a link with more information on eligibility and how to apply.