As California grapples with a deluge of requests for unemployment benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some state workers processing claims say they are buckling under pressure, hampered by outdated technology, bureaucratic red tape and a shortage of trained, experienced staff.
The state Employment Development Department is so overwhelmed that Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged last week that nearly 1 million unpaid claims may be eligible for payment but require more information, with estimates that the backlog won’t be eliminated until the end of September.
Inside the EDD, full-time employees and temporary hires say they are working long hours, including weekends, but often feel helpless to resolve problems for desperate Californians who have been out of work for months and often call crying or angry.
In interviews with The Times and testimony during a legislative hearing last week, current and former EDD workers say they have been hindered in assisting those who have lost jobs. Some EDD workers are so frustrated with the process that they have quit.
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