California’s new unemployment benefits application system is experiencing long wait times, and tens of thousands of jobless people who signed in did not complete the process in its first six days, many likely because they were unable to, state officials said Wednesday.
The findings drew concern from state lawmakers who said improvements made by the Employment Development Department don’t do enough to address the agency’s problems.
The new online system to expedite applications for benefits and verify identities was installed in response to complaints that the EDD’s former process was ineffective, plagued by jammed phone lines and computer glitches, leaving a backlog of 1.6 million applications that had not been approved as of last month.
A “strike team” appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated two weeks ago that the last remnants of the backlog would not be eliminated until the end of January, and recommended changes including the switch to the new identity verification system provided by a private vendor.
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