Coronavirus crisis: Hundreds of thousands of Californians may not be receiving unemployment benefits, federal data shows

In February, before stay-at-home orders were issued, the state's unemployment rate was only about 4%.
Over a recent five-week period, between the week ending March 21 and April 18, California saw about 3.35 million people -- or 17% of the state's labor force -- apply for unemployment benefits.

In February, before stay-at-home orders were issued because of the coronavirus pandemic, California's unemployment rate was only about 4%.


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But the state's Economic Development Department is struggling to keep up with all the applications.

Just over 8% of the workforce was receiving benefits as of April 4, the most recent date with actual benefits data available. But on that date, the rate of the workforce who had applied for unemployment since the coronavirus outbreak was already up to 11%, leaving more than 550,000 people without benefits who may need them.

RELATED: California Unemployment: Residents struggle to get answers as to why they apply but don't get benefits

One reason for this, other than the huge surge in applications, is some are getting notices that they have a past penalty that is putting their unemployment check on hold.

Even so, many workers have complained about the EDD system, saying it's unresponsive.

Last week, a dozen advocacy organizations sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newson and other state agencies recommending the process be streamlined and allow for leniency for those with errors on their records.


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