Unemployment continues to surge nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Wyoming isn't an exception.

According to new data from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, 4,885 Wyoming residents filed unemployment claims the week ending April 4. The two weeks leading up to that saw more than 10,000 Wyomingites filing claims.

The week ending April 6 last year saw 341 claims.

During a press conference Wednesday, Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Director Robin Cooley said the agency has been inundated with calls over the past few weeks. Most of those claims are from people who have never filed unemployment claims before.

“We’ve started redeploying people from our agency to handle claims,” Cooley said. “We’re working on implementing additional phone lines because I know the frustration that we’re hearing from individuals calling in — they either have a wait time of numerous hours or they’re getting a busy line or they’re simply not getting through at all.”

Colley said state officials are working to help Wyomingites access the federal programs in the recently passed CARES Act.

Those programs include pandemic unemployment assistance which rpovdes unemployment benefits to people who typically wouldn't be eligible like contractors and others who are self-employed.

Under the federal pandemic compensation program, which provides unemployed citizens with $600 per week.

The pandemic emergency compensation program extends unemployment benefits by 13 weeks.

Cooley said the state hopes to begin implementing the programs by the end of April.

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