A Reddit forum is helping the unemployed navigate an antiquated and disorganized system.

As unemployment claims shot up early in the pandemic, so did posts on r/Unemployment, one of the many topic-based forums on the site known as subreddits. The subreddit once typically had fewer than 10 posts a day, but it quickly ballooned to nearly 1,000 posts a day in April and May, Ella Koeze reports for The New York Times.

As the crisis wore on, posts and comments surged in the weeks following changes to benefit programs. In January, nearly 10 months after the first lockdowns, the forum had one of its busiest weeks ever, driven by delays in payments and uncertainty around legislation signed late last year.

As hiring stalls and the economy shows signs of slowing again, the continued popularity of r/Unemployment underscores how the system remains broken for so many people.

According to the Labor Department’s most recent count, nearly 18 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment benefits, and more than one million filed new claims last week. That’s down from the peak of more than 30 million over the summer, but it still represents a number that federal and state assistance programs that are outdated and cobbled together are still struggling to handle.

Post after post on r/Unemployment conveys bureaucratic problems with endless variations: how to file a claim depending on your circumstances, what to do if you made a mistake on your claim, what different statuses on your claim might mean, how to navigate confusing and glitch-prone online portals and even how to speak to an actual person to get issues resolved.

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