(CALmatters) Tech glitches have struck California’s beleaguered unemployment department once again.
The Employment Development Department’s website was unable to process claimants’ information over the weekend and was still plagued with difficulties Monday. “Some customers are experiencing issues using these services,” a pop-up on EDD’s benefits registration webpage read Monday. “We’re working to restore service as soon as possible. Please check back later.” EDD spokesperson Loree Levy acknowledged “an intermittent issue,” but said more than 500,000 people were still able to get through and certify claims.
What exactly “an intermittent issue” means is unclear — but what is clear is that EDD is digging itself into an ever-deeper hole of backlogged claims. For seven straight weeks, the logjam of claims has topped 1 million — meaning it’s actually larger than it was last July, when Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed to clear the then-backlog of nearly 1 million claims by the end of September.
Meanwhile, the department is about to face yet another deluge of claims required for the thousands of Californians who have been unemployed for 12 months. And EDD, which just began certifying on March 7 the federal unemployment benefits from the December stimulus package, said last week it will take until April 10 — or April 30, in some cases — to begin certifying benefits from the stimulus package President Joe Biden signed this month.
Challenges with certifying claims have been so pervasive that a website called “Is It Down Right Now?” has sprung up to check whether EDD’s services are functional at any given moment. The comments section is full of frustrated Californians sharing tips and tricks for getting claims certified, many of whom say they spent multiple days trying to get through. One woman said Monday she finally reached EDD after 100 calls, only to have the representative say they couldn’t help because the system was down.
At a Sacramento Press Club event on Monday that I moderated alongside the Sacramento Bee’s Hannah Wiley, most of the five lawmakers we talked to pinpointed EDD as their constituents’ primary problem. Assemblymember Suzette Martinez Valladares, a Santa Clarita Republican, said her office receives thousands of EDD-related calls a month.
- State Sen. Dave Min, an Irvine Democrat: “EDD has been a continued frustration for a lot of us. … It’s the top issue we’re facing.”
The coronavirus bottom line: As of Monday, California had 3,547,278 confirmed cases (+0.1% from previous day) and 56,545 deaths (+0.8% from previous day), according to a CalMatters tracker.
California has administered 14,819,755 vaccine doses.
Plus: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. We’re also tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county and lawsuits against COVID-19 restrictions.
BY Emily Hoeven. CALmatters