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Coronavirus unemployment: "Gaps" exist in jobless payments, governor says

Coronavirus unemployment: "Gaps" exist in jobless payments, governor says


"Gaps" exist in the state labor agency's quest to distribute unemployment payments to more than 3 million California workers who have lost their jobs due to the economic fallout unleashed by the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.

At least 3.2 million California residents have filed unemployment claims, Newsom estimated Wednesday, in the wake of business lockdowns imposed by state and local governments to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.

"There are still some gaps," the governor said, in the EDD's ability to serve unemployed people promptly -- or at all.

EDD officials processed billions of dollars in unemployment claims for the week that ended on April 18.

"Just last week, $2 billion in unemployment insurance claims were dispersed, just in one week," the governor said.

In comparison, over the roughly one-month period from about March 12 through April 11, the state EDD processed $1 billion in unemployment insurance claims.

That means in the most recent week, the state EDD distributed an average of about $286 million a day in unemployment payments, compared with an average $33 million a day for the four weeks that ended on April 11 -- nearly nine times as much.

Numerous payments also are being enhanced with an additional $600 a week that is being financed by the federal government. That means a person who receives the maximum California unemployment payment of $450 a week would be getting $1,050 a week when the additional federal payment is added.

In the most recent round of EDD notices of job cutbacks, the largest disclosure in California was filed by Aramark, with plans to lay off more than 1,800 at Yosemite National Park. Aramark provides food, facilities, and uniform services to an array of clients.

The largest Bay Area layoff that was disclosed also was by Aramark, which laid off 777 in Oakland. In addition, Therma, a heating and air conditioning company, dismissed 477 workers in San Jose, according to the EDD documents.

Starting on Monday, the EDD dramatically expanded its hours to provide phone services from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

"The call centers are profoundly important to people," Newsom said. "But also getting out those claims within 21 days is equally important. We are able to maintain that status."

The governor acknowledged, though, that the EDD ramp-up is an incomplete endeavor.

"We still have so much work to do to get these checks out," Newsom said.

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