(CALMATTERS) – In an unmistakable sign that California’s economic recovery is lagging the nation’s, new unemployment claims in the Golden State jumped to their highest level since the June 15 reopening for the second week in a row. More than 65,000 Californians filed new jobless claims for the week ending July 31, according to federal data released Thursday — an increase of nearly 1,000 from the week before. That stands in stark contrast to the rest of the country, where total claims dropped by 14,000. California now accounts for more than 20% of unemployment claims in the U.S., despite making up less than 12% of its labor force, said Michael Bernick, a former director of the state Employment Development Department and an attorney at Duane Morris. The dismaying trend doesn’t appear likely to reverse course in the near future.

California’s employers and the workforce boards that supply workers to employers report no uptick in job applications, even as the schools begin to reopen and as the Sept. 4 cutoff for the (federal) unemployment supplement nears.

Michael Bernick, former director of the state Employment Development Department

However, the problem-plagued EDD made some progress on its backlog of unresolved claims. Around 233,000 claims had been sitting on EDD’s desk for more than 21 days as of July 31, a decrease of about 5,000 from the week before, according to figures the department released Thursday. I talked with California voters stuck in the backlog — and how their experiences with EDD could influence their vote in the Sept. 14 recall election.