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The Covid-19 Pandemic

The Dripby Louis Krauss2:47 pmApr 24, 20200

Maryland’s new online portal for jobless claims gets off to a wobbly start

The new website crashes within minutes this morning

Above: Baltimore office of the Maryland Department of Labor, whose website for filing unemployment claims buckled this morning due to the high number of applicants. (Louis Krauss)

After weeks of complaints by Marylanders unable to file for unemployment benefits due to an outdated online filing system, the Department of Labor this morning released its new BEACON One-Stop website intended to streamline the process and fix some glaring problems.

Judging by reactions online, the rollout has been anything but smooth, leaving some newly-unemployed residents frustrated at being unable to log in or to process their claims.

“And it is 7:12 am and ALREADY the new website Does NOT work!!” @KReganRealtor tweeted today. “Please get on this and find out what is going on with it.

Another person lamented on Twitter that “getting a pair of yeezys [an expensive shoe brand made by Kanye West] is easier than filing for unemployment in Maryland.”

More than 300,000 people have filed unemployment claims since the Covid-19 pandemic shut down much of the state’s economy.

For the week ending April 18, more than 44,000 Maryland residents filed new unemployment claims, or 25 times the number of claims filed for the same week of 2019.

“Temporary Issues”

The new website today informed users that the portal still can’t handle the volume of traffic.

“Despite rigorous testing of our new BEACON One-Stop application, the vendor we partnered with is experiencing temporary issues with the system due to the volume of claimants accessing the site simultaneously,” the message reads when the site fails to load.

Online complaints poured in to Governor Larry Hogan’s communications director, Mike Ricci, who had touted the new BEACON site last night.

“Mike it’s 7:50 and the server has already crashed, any news???” @LDubay asked him.

The site appeared to be working better this afternoon. But it still includes warnings that the unprecedented volume of callers is causing “long wait times.”

For those who do get the site to work, it has been upgraded to ostensibly allow more applicants to file online, such as those who worked out-of-state or had more than three jobs in the last 18 months.

Previously, those people had to call a claim center whose phone lines were constantly busy and did not even allow callers to access a recorded message and be placed on hold.

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