SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- A year into the pandemic and the state's unemployment call center is still overwhelmed with callers.
On Thursday, the Employment Development Department announced that 251 new call center workers completed the department's expedited training program earlier this week.
But even with nearly 3,500 agents, the average wait time to reach someone is about 40 minutes.
RELATED: Man has to pay $3,000 in surprise taxes after EDD withholding mistake
Also, fraud remains a big issue. EDD spokeswoman Loree Levy says California is not alone.
"Of course the issue of unprecedented fraud is much bigger than just California. It is indeed a nationwide issue. Virtually every state in the nation is experiencing a barrage of fraudulent activity on a scale we have just simply never seen before. The US Labor Department Inspector General's office estimates that more than $63 billion nationally has been paid out improperly through fraud or errors," Levy said.
RELATED: California couple battles EDD bureaucracy after finding $25,000 in stolen unemployment money
The department said that if unemployed Californians receive a tax form they don't agree with -- or think is a result of identity theft -- the EDD has established a dedicated phone line with an additional 300 agents to assist.
Levy also stressed that the EDD is working to improve the clarity of its instructions on its website so that people can better understand how to apply and certify for their benefits. "We continue seeking to improve the information available to customers about how to file for unemployment, and certify their eligibility for payment every two weeks. Every customer who understands the information on the website, or our automated phone system, is of course one less call into the call center and every word matters to us," she said. Levy also said that the EDD is expanding language access by translating more documents and forms into languages other than English and Spanish.
RELATED: California unemployment: EDD addresses improvement strategies, tax confusion
Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
Have a question for Michael and the 7 On Your Side team? Fill out the form HERE! 7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, please allow 3-5 business days for a response.
App users: For a better experience, click here to view the full map in a new window