California’s labor agency, after seven months of futility, said Wednesday it has begun to make progress in its quest to whittle away a mountain of unemployment claims filed by workers who lost their jobs amid coronavirus-linked government shutdowns, although glitches persist.

The state Employment Development Department has installed a new identity verification technology and said the tool’s first day of operations on Monday helped to speed up the processing of new unemployment claims.

“Already, the new tool has helped serve more than 101,000 Californians seeking unemployment benefits for the first time,” said Sharon Hilliard, director of the state EDD.

There’s a long way to go. As of Sept. 30, the EDD continued to wrestle with a mammoth backlog of 1.56 million unemployment claims that had yet to be processed.

Still, difficulties remain, even with the launch of the new tool, officially called in the EDD’s nomenclature.

Problems continue at the EDD’s broken phone center, the agency conceded.

“It is possible that some claimants seeking help from’s call center did not get assistance given longer-than-average hold times Monday that reached at one point over an hour,” the EDD said Wednesday.




By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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