The unemployment backlog is rising again, claims government officials failed to pay people who lost their jobs in California, and workers need to think before the Christmas break.
As of December 16, an estimated 683,200 California workers were trapped in a bureaucratic limbo created by the state’s Department of Employment Development, which has struggled with unequaled success to close a huge backlog of unpaid unemployment claims.
The most recently reported backlog is an increase of 12,500 from December 9, when an estimated 670,700 California workers were stuck in EDD traffic jams.
According to the EDD, the total portfolio consists of a combination of unpaid initial unemployment claims and unpaid ongoing claims.
The initial backlog of jobless claims as of December 16 was 370,300, an increase of 13,800 from December 9, the EDD reported.
The backlog for continued unemployment claims on December 16 was 312,900, a decrease of around 1,300 from the previous week.
The total loss inventory has increased in four of the last five weeks. This indicates that the EDD is again in default of payment.
An unemployment claim ends in the EDD backlog if it falls into one of two categories: an initial claim that took more than 21 days to pay or disqualify, or an ongoing claim for which at least one payment was made that took more than 21 days to complete until the EDD has made the next payment or disqualified the applicant.
The situation could soon worsen, according to several recent economic reports for the Bay Area and California.
The labor market has shown signs of stalling. State and local government agencies have imposed another round of severe business closings that could trigger higher layoffs.
Rise in unemployment could force people to submit more claims for unemployment benefits. This, in turn, could hamper the EDD’s payment efforts and cause benefits payouts to lag significantly.
In September, the EDD promised to clear the backlog by January – but January 31 is less than six weeks away. It was not immediately clear how the EDD would keep its promise given the increase in traffic jams.
This news organization asked the EDD to discuss the current estimate of when the backlog could go away.
The agency took a two-week break from processing applications in late September to help reduce the backlog. And for a while, that seemed like a successful strategy.
For six consecutive weeks from early October to mid-November, the EDD reported that the number of unpaid claims had decreased.
However, from November 18, the backlog of unpaid receivables increased again, and since then the trend has been towards a steadily increasing traffic jam.
Unemployed people continued to complain about a faulty website and an unresponsive call center. These complaints continued even as the EDD added hundreds of workers and new technology to automate and streamline the claims process.