California’s unemployment benefits system needs major overhaul, state report says amid backlog of thousands of claims

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California’s antiquated unemployment benefits system requires a complete overhaul to overcome significant problems that have delayed getting money to many left jobless during the COVID-19 pandemic, a strike team appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday.

The 45-day review by technology and government experts found that the backlog of unresolved claims at the state Employment Development Department is rapidly growing by 10,000 a day and, though Newsom wanted it eliminated by the end of this month, will take several more months to be cleared.

The report was requested by Newsom in July after months of complaints from unemployed Californians frustrated with the state agency for failing to process claims, leaving them without the benefits needed to pay their bills. The EDD has also come under fire from state legislators, who last week approved an emergency audit of its performance in response to the criticisms and following reports of widespread fraud in the unemployment system.

“No matter how common this situation may be, it is unacceptable,” the strike team said in its report, noting that other states are also being overwhelmed with unprecedented numbers of claims for unemployment benefits. “The State must deliver this benefit to those who qualify within a time frame that’s relevant to the well-being of the claimant, and it was failing to do that for too many Californians.”

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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