Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday reassured Californians that a faster, streamlined process to file for unemployment is on the way, acknowledging that the state's Employment Development Department's (EDD) out-of-date technology and infrastructure have contributed to a massive backlog of claims.
The EDD released a report on Saturday announcing it would dedicate the next two weeks to an agency-wide reset to make it easier for eligible Californians to apply for and receive unemployment benefits. The department will “pause” accepting new claims until Oct. 5.
Newsom said that significant delays in the processing of claims are not a problem unique to California, and outdated technology is in no small part responsible for the trouble. “As a nation, we have a huge IT problem,” he said.
The agency plans to launch a system called ID.me to automatically verify the identity of claimants as a way of making it easier for applicants to file new claims and to help the department mitigate fraud and more efficiently work through a backlog of some 1.6 million cases.
Meanwhile, Newsom said California’s COVID-19 numbers continue to drop. The current seven-day average positivity rate has fallen to 2.8%, even as the state continues to expand testing. The number of tests performed dropped significantly during the heat waves, smoke and fires earlier in September, but have since rebounded, he said.