COVID economy: California unemployment claims backlog rockets higher

Peninsula Premier Admin

A vast pile of backlogged unemployment claims in California has swollen to its highest levels in more than two months — a revelation that adds to the brutal burdens facing workers in the state in the wake of coronavirus-linked economic woes.

An estimated 810,750 unemployment claims filed by California workers were stuck in the EDD’s bureaucratic logjam as of Jan. 13, this news organization’s analysis of the two main components of a dashboard posted by the EDD shows.

The number of backlogged unemployment claims as of Jan. 13 jumped 57%, or an increase of 294,790, compared with the week before.

On Jan. 6, the EDD reported that its total backlog for unemployment claims was approximately 515,960.

The most recent backlog of 810,750 consists of two categories:

— 786,440 claims by workers who filed a first-time unemployment claim but have been waiting more than 21 days to receive their first payment or be told they don’t qualify for any benefits. These are officially known as initial claims.

— 24,310 claims by workers who received at least one payment but have been waiting more than 21 days to receive an additional payment or notification from the EDD that they don’t qualify for further payments. These are known as continuing claims.

Unemployed workers have continued to complain of a glitchy website and an unresponsive call center. Those complaints have continued despite the EDD adding hundreds of workers and new technology designed to automate and streamline the claims process.

Making matters even worse are the disclosures of widespread fraud that has engulfed the EDD payments system, a problem that is so severe that the EDD suspended payments on 1.4 million unemployment claims.

The number of backlogged initial claims as of Jan. 13 increased dramatically, by 295%, or nearly four times as many as the week before. The number of backlogged continuing claims as of Jan. 13 plunged by 92% over the same one-week period.

The total backlog of claims as of Jan. 13 is the most since Nov. 4, when the backlog of total claims was 890,185.

Contributed by local news sources

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