California has processed an unprecedented 3.2 million unemployment claims in the past month, but people across the state have reported problems with the Employment Development Department (EDD).
Yoga teacher Ahlia Biondi has been out of work for six weeks after the two studios she works in closed down because of the pandemic. She applied for unemployment benefits on March 16. She has yet to see a penny from the EDD.
"I’ve called all the numbers and all the numbers that I’ve called have said no one is here to answer your call, you need to send an email and go online so I’ve sent multiple emails," she said.
None of her calls or emails have had any results. Every time she logs into the system she sees that she's certified to receive $450 a week, but her status has been pending at zero dollars.
"Any communication would be great. If I did something wrong in my application, let me know so I can fix it. If it was a glitch in the system, let me know and give me a date when I can anticipate that it will be taken care of," she said.
Unfortunately, Biondi is not alone, according to new data from the Labor Department, California paid only 1 in 8 claims in March. Other states like Virginia and Rhode Island processed about half their claims.
"It's been a very excruciating wait for many people, certainly many people who filed their claim on March 6, they were waiting or are still waiting for their first payment well into April. That’s really tough when you’re living paycheck to paycheck," said Andrew Stettner with the Century Foundation.
Governor Gavin Newsom has acknowledged the EDD’s failures and said that they must be fixed. This week he added an additional 600 people to the system to help make things run smoother. He has also added an additional call center to help answer people's questions about their applications.