The backlog of California workers still awaiting resolution of differing types of unemployment claims that spiked amid coronavirus-linked business shutdowns remains well above 1 million, a new state report shows.

The state Employment Development Department has slowly drained a lake of unemployment claims that swamped the labor agency over the seven months of business shutdowns to combat the deadly bug.

Despite the progress, an estimated 1.1 million workers in California remain stuck in a backlog of unpaid claims while the EDD scrambles to pay their benefits or resolve their claims, the EDD reported.

At one point during the spring, the backlog of unpaid claims was around 1.8 million.

Jobless workers and state lawmakers have blasted the EDD’s fumbles as it seeks to pay workers who, in some cases, were waiting for their first unemployment payments since mid-March.

In early October, the EDD launched a high-tech verification tool that the agency was betting would produce significant progress against the huge backlog of claims.

Progress has begun to materialize in the battle against the backlog, EDD statistics show.

During the week that ended on  Sept. 30, the first timeframe for which the EDD has released firm numbers about the unpaid claims, the overall backlog was 1.56 million California workers.

For the week ending on Oct. 7, the backlog was 1.34 million, a reduction of 222,100 claims, or a decline of 14% from the previous week.

As of the week that ended on Oct. 14, the claims backlog totaled 1.2 million for a decline of 137,300 from the prior week, a drop of 10%.

The most recent week brought more declines — but also a strong indication that the EDD’s pace of improvement has begun to noticeably falter.

The backlog of 1.1 million workers was down 98,900 from the prior week for a decline of just 8%, the EDD reported.

That overall number consists of two categories:

— 331,500 workers who had filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits but who have been forced to wait more than 21 days without receiving any payment or a notification about their eligibility for any payment.

— 773,900 workers who had received one payment but have been waiting more than 21 days for a second payment or notification about whether they would be receiving any additional payments.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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