State officials outline plan to ease frustrations with unemployment

News

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and state officials focused on the economy and unemployment due to COVID-19 during Friday’s news conference.

The state announced they’re getting 650 to 800 unemployment applications per week, and that 126,000 New Mexicans have applied so far. The Department of Workforce Solutions said to keep up with the demand and try to cut down on wait times, they’ve added more staff and new technology.

The Department of Workforce Solutions has added 145 staff members to the Unemployment Insurance Operations call center, 80 people to assist with adjudication and have expanded their operation hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. They’ve also added a series of changes to their website like adding a chat-bot to help streamline applications. They also have sent out text message notifications throughout the application process and created YouTube videos.

The Department of Workforce Solutions said by making these changes, 24,000 New Mexicans received their money within the last five days. Self-employed workers will be expedited and get unemployment starting on Sunday.

Governor Lujan Grisham says she knows that her stay-at-home order is taking a toll on people and that she is eager to open businesses. “Before COVID-19 you can see this huge bar of economic activity then the second we have our public health order… so we know the impact it drops,” said Lujan Grisham.

The governor also says so far $1.4 billion has made its way to 8,277 small businesses in New Mexico. She also noted that the state is home to 40,000 small businesses.

Also in Friday’s news conference, the governor talked about state charitable efforts like the AllTogetherNM Fund which has raised $3.5 million so far. The governor said the fund is distributing $550k to food banks all across the state such as:

  • Food Bank of Eastern NM in Clovis
  • ECHO Food Bank in Farmington
  • Community Pantry in Gallup
  • The Food Depot for Northern New Mexico residents
  • Roadrunner Food Bank for Central & Southern New Mexico residents

As of Friday, there were 153 new positive COVID-19 cases bringing the state’s total to 2,521. Six new deaths were also announced Friday bringing the total to 84.

Charts

Chart explaining unemployment process. The chart was shown during the April 24 Gov. Lujan Grisham news conference.
Chart shows unemployment applications NM Workforce Solutions has received so far.
Technology that NM Workforce Solutions has applied to their website to help process go faster.
NM Workforce Solutions has added more staff to their department to help with applications.
Chart shows NM unemployment insurance payments per month.
AllTogetherNM Fund has raised $3.5 million. Slide shown during April 24 news conference.

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