(CALMATTERS) – The closer California gets to reopening, the worse its unemployment numbers look. Nearly 75,000 residents filed new jobless claims for the week ending May 29, according to federal data released Thursday — the state’s highest total since April 24. California now accounts for nearly 18% of the nation’s jobless claims, despite making up only 11% of its workforce, the Mercury News reports. The disappointing numbers highlight the paradox of California’s post-pandemic economy: Although experts predict the Golden State will recover more quickly than the rest of the nation, its unemployment rate is expected to remain higher.
Meanwhile, numbers at the Employment Development Department continued heading in the wrong direction for the seventh straight week. EDD reported Thursday that more than 229,000 unemployment claims had been backlogged for more than 21 days as of May 29 — up from 226,000 the week before. Things also worsened at the call center, where jobless claimants had to call an average of 12.8 times to get through, up from 12.1 times the week before. Many Californians, desperate to bypass EDD’s jammed phone lines, are paying private companies to robo-call the department and secure them a place in the queue.