(WIVB) – The New York State Department of Labor has distributed $3.1 billion in unemployment benefits to New Yorkers since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the department reported on Saturday.

So far, more than 1.4 million New York residents have submitted completed applications for unemployment since the crisis began, including traditional unemployment insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Insurance.

“Every state is facing major challenges when it comes to unemployment, but in New York we are upgrading our systems in real time while delivering benefits to New Yorkers faster and more aggressively than any other state,” NYS Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said“I’ve been unemployed myself — I know that losing your job is one of the most trying situations someone can face — and while there is more work to do, we have connected over one million New Yorkers with billions of dollars in benefits in just six weeks. We will keep working around the clock seven days a week to ensure every single New Yorker gets every single dollar they deserve.”

Here’s what the Department of Labor has done to update its system to process the massive increase of unemployment claims due to the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Launching a new, streamlined website backed by Google Cloud’s infrastructure, which can automatically scale to meet demand;
  • Undertaking a major call back initiative to proactively call New Yorkers with partially-completed applications and obtain the information needed to process their claims. To date, the DOL has made over 625,000 proactive calls;
  • Increasing the number of Department of Labor representatives handling calls and processing applications from 400 people working five days a week to up to 3,100 individuals working seven days a week;
  • Rolling out a streamlined online application, which allows New Yorkers to seamlessly apply for either traditional unemployment insurance or the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in one system; and
  • Being among the first states to release the additional $600 weekly payments to unemployed individuals — even before the federal government made funding available.