California’s staggering job losses continue

Though national unemployment claims dipped a little bit since last week, we're still looking at more than 1.3 million layoffs; the 15th straight week of unemployment of over a million a week.

For Californians the state's continuing job bleed out can't be sugarcoated, be masked or socially distanced away.

At 1.3 million new unemployment claims nationally, the numbers, though still very high, are ticking down ever so slowly. The Golden State is quite another matter.

Though California is 12% of the U.S. population, this week's claims represent 20.5% of the nation's total claims.

"Job losses have continued, they continues every day," said labor lawyer Mike Bernick of the Duane Morris law firm and a former director of the Employment Development Department (EDD).

Bernick said the governor and county officials are sometimes at odds as when to reopen, causing a lot of back and forth reopenings and reclosings.

"People who were hired just a couple weeks ago, now, with the retrenchments, are being laid off. We see the Paycheck Protection Program, which subsidized a lot of the hiring, that money, by many firms, has been spent by June 30th. Those people are being laid off," said Mr. Bernick.

This is taking a heavy toll on employers as well who may never return.

"What we've seen for the past two months, companies that have tried to hang on and tried to hang on and tried to hang on are finally laying off people," said Bernick.

Since mid-March, the EDD system has been overwhelmed with more than 7 million claims; that's three years worth of claims in just 4 months.

It's so overloaded, that the heavily criticized EDD has already hired 2,200 new employees on the way to hiring 4,000. The law requires each claim to be thoroughly vetted before payment can be made.

Records show that four out of five unemployment claims go through relatively quickly. The other 20% get tied up in either the vetting process or in rooting out mounting fraud from criminal enterprises.

"What you see throughout the nation, there are more sophisticated fraud rings, computer rings," said Bernick.

And, consider this. "There's no reason we can't reopen with the right protocols.  Much of the surge is coming from non-work situations; social gatherings, family gatherings, from the protests [protests have not been linked to a spike in COVID-19 cases]. It's unrelated or not connected to the openings," said Bernick.

Alas, as the Governor said only yesterday, way too many people are unwilling to wear masks and socially distance, which is the one plus one that equals too bad for California.