Deborah Long, a beautician at Grand Elegance Beauty Salon in Pine Bluff, said she has been affected by the coronavirus, having to suspend her services under the directive of the governor.

Many Arkansans are searching for economical relief as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to either lay off employees or close their doors temporally.

Directives and orders from Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has also but many people out of work such as casino workers, barbers, beauticians and massage therapist to name a few.

Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) said the volume of unemployment claims in the state of Arkansas has increased.

“We went from processing about a thousand claims a week to literally falling over a cliff and having to do 30,000 the next week and by all indications we’ll be at that same level this week,” said Preston in Wednesday’s press conference.

The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, located at 1001 S. Tennessee St. in Pine Bluff, is also seeing an increase of foot traffic, who are being redirected to file their claims online or by telephone.

Limiting face-to-face contact and only allowing one person inside at a time, ADWS employees stand behind a plastic barrier as a precautionary.

“Those seeking unemployment benefits can come here to pick up an application or they can file their claim by phone or online,” said an ADWS employee from behind the plastic barrier.

In a release from ADWS, it stated workers who had become separated from employment as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic should file their unemployment insurance claims through ADWS’ online claims filing system EZARC which can be accessed via the Internet at https://www.ezarc.adws.arkansas.gov/.

Claims can also be done by calling 501-534-6304 or 1-844-908-2178.

The online and telephone services will eliminate the in-person application process.

Deborah Long, a beautician at Grand Elegance Beauty Salon in Pine Bluff, said she has been affected by the coronavirus, having to suspend her services under the directive of the governor.

“I have been a hairstylist for over 30 years,” said Long. “This virus has affected my income.”

For those who were self-employed, Dr. Nate Smith asks that they wait until further guidance from the Department of Health is released.

“Pandemic Unemployment Compensation which is a part of the CARES Act that was passed, addresses those self-employed workers,” said Smith. “We are still waiting on guidance from the Federal Department of Labor and how that will be implemented.”

Smith adds that the ADWS is seeing a flood in their system of self-employed workers who are calling and trying to go ahead and apply for unemployment insurance.

“We are not able to process it so I’d say please hold off if you are one of those workers that fall under that category cause right now we cannot help you until we get the guidance from the Department of Labor,” said Smith.

Smith hopes the guidance will come in the following days and says right now they are seeing a back load on the system because of that.

Under the CARES Act, (also known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act), workers who don’t traditionally qualify for unemployment, such as self-employed workers, will receive benefits under federal legislation that was passed last week. The one week waiting period would also be waived.

Hutchinson said this relief, for Arkansans who have been laid off due to COVID-19, will ensure that they get the cash assistance they need to take care of their family.