Arts industry unemployment claims in New York rise 3,880 percent. How to apply for unemployment benefits.

The U.S. Labor Department reported the record-setting loss of 10 million jobs nationally in the last two weeks. No region and no industry are immune. So it’s no surprise, but still a shock, at the unemployment numbers for the arts in New York.

In the week ending March 28, 2020, there were 14,480 new claims filed for unemployment insurance among the sector in New York categorized as “Arts, Entertainment and Recreation,” according to a report from The New York State Department of Labor. This marks a whopping 3,880 percent increase in claims from the same week a year ago — one of the worst-hit sectors in the state. Only the “accommodation and food services” industry had a greater increase, although retail trade was not far behind. (The actual numbers of newly unemployed in other fields are much higher, but so are the overall number of people employed in those fields.)

Overall, there were 369,025 initial unemployment insurance claims filed in New York State for the week ending March 28, 2020, compared to 80,509 that were filed the previous week. Long Island has been especially hard-hit.


New Yorkers seeking to file an unemployment insurance claim can visit or call the Telephone Claim Center at (888) 209-8124. But be forewarned. There has been an alarming 16,000 percent increase in phone calls and almost 900 percent increase in website traffic.

If you are filing a new Unemployment Insurance claim, the day you should apply is based on the first letter of your last name.
A – F file on Monday | G – N file on Tuesday | O – Z file on Wednesday
Missed your day? File on Thurs-Fri-Sat
Any claim you file will be backdated to the date you became unemployed. If you are eligible, you will be paid for all benefits due.

Here are step by step instructions for filing a claim

If you are self-employed, you may now file for Unemployment Insurance benefits online. See the Guidance for Self-Employed Individuals.

On March 27, 2020, the President of the United States signed a law that provides additional Unemployment Insurance (“UI”) assistance to workers impacted by COVID-19. This new law provides:
• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – Extended eligibility for individuals who have traditionally
been ineligible for UI benefits (e.g., self-employed workers, independent contractors — the categories to which many theater artists  belong.)
• Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – An additional $600 per week, on top of regular benefits, to all UI recipients; and,
• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – An additional 13 weeks of UI benefits,
beyond the regular 26 weeks already provided, for a total of 39 weeks of coverage.

More information on who is eligible now

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

Leave a Reply