California workers are facing an ever-worsening backlog for their unemployment claims, a disturbing reminder that the economic contagion sparked by the coronavirus is not yet completely eradicated.
Workers lost their jobs in epic numbers at the start of the coronavirus-linked business lockdowns during March 2020 and April 2020, leaving California’s economy struggling to cope.
Backlogs for paying or otherwise resolving unemployment claims have spiraled upward, from two key measures compiled by the state’s employment development department.
On June 12, the total impasse over the handling of unemployment claims by California workers totaled 1.126 million, nearly 1,100 more than the total hitch of 1.125 million reported by EDD for June 5.
The overall backlog is derived from two numbers posted in the official dashboard posted by State EDD:
– Claims that require more than 21 days for EDD to approve or deny a request for unemployment benefits. This total was 222,559 on June 12, which is 1,200 more than a week ago.
– Claims that are in limbo until the applicant can successfully substantiate the unemployment claim with the EDD. This total was 903,532, which is almost 100 less than a week ago.
The backlog in claims payments is a new setback for California workers who suffered a total of 2.7 million job losses during March 2020 and April 2020.
California recovered only 51.8%, or 1.3 million, of the jobs the state had lost in the two months from May 2020 to May 2021.
In an email a few weeks ago, an EDD spokesperson said the state agency preferred to use numbers that detail the labor agency’s failure to make a decision on a certified claim within 21 or fewer days.
Yet the measure favored by the EDD is far worse than the case on April 10, when the measure reached its lowest point since the state agency began posting its dashboard on February 13 this year.
As on April 10, only 111,333 claims were taking more than 21 days to be paid or rejected by the EDD. The most recent 21-day backlog number posted for June 12 was 99.9% higher than the number for April 10 – almost double.
For the category of claims that were still awaiting certification by the unemployment applicant, the number reported on June 12 was 3% higher than the lowest such number on record, 877,212 on February 13.
For 18 weeks, EDD has been posting its dashboard, which was designed to shed some light on the progress being made to handle the avalanche of jobless claims in California.
The June 12 count for claims that were paid or denied beyond 21 days was 16.8% higher than the average number for that category for 18 weeks, while the latest figure for claims stuck in some sort of certification limbo was just a tiny bit. higher than the 18-week average. Overall backlog for both categories was 3.3% higher than the 18-week average.
For almost a year or so, EDD has been criticized for its failures on several fronts.
EDD has come under fire from unemployed workers, state lawmakers and state auditors for a series of failures related to unemployment benefits.
Among the criticisms:
EDD has failed to pay employees on time, in part due to a broken phone call center and an outdated computer system riddled with glitches.
EDD blunders have opened the door to a flood of fraudulent claims.