The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations will use a virtual assistant to help people with questions about their unemployment compensation and to relieve pressure on overburdened operators.

Almost 340,000 people have filed claims for unemployment compensation over the past four weeks. Many are filing for the first time and there has been an unprecedented number of calls and emails to the Division of Employment Security, a news release stated. The chatbot will provide answers more efficiently, the release stated.

An icon for the chatbot has been placed on the department's home page,

The department is also encouraging those filing for unemployment to have the money deposited directly into their bank accounts.

The state also sent the first $600 federal add-on benefits this week, to people who have been unemployed since March 29. The increase is retroactive and the department is working through subsequent claims to send additional payments, the release stated.