Lawmakers take aim at Newsom as a million unemployment claims remain unprocessed

Lawmakers in California are calling for Gov. Gavin Newsom to make systemic changes at the Employment Development Department as more than one million residents are still waiting for their unemployment claims to be processed. 

Over half of California adults have reported a loss of income since the start of the pandemic with the state's unemployment rate currently at 17 percent, officials said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented job losses, with many Californians relying on state assistance that has yet to come. 

The California legislature sent a letter to Newsom's office saying plainly, "it's clear that EDD is failing." 

While Newsom announced last week a series of actions to reform the state's unemployment system, lawmakers say it is not enough. 

EDD staffers are under immense pressure to process a mountain of unemployment claims -- more than a million -- and the load will only get heavier officials said.

That's why the legislature is asking for more transparency regarding unprocessed claims and more accountability from the EDD to own for its shortcomings. 

"It has nearly been impossible to get straight answers from EDD on most inquiries," assemblymembers said in the joint letter to Newsom. Adding," When we have asked for simple, factual information--such as how many have remained unfulfilled, for how long, in different categories, rejected for what reasons--we have been met with long-winded excuses, fumbling non-answers, or unclear and inconsistent data,"  

Assemblymembers are asking that EDD clear its entire backlog of unprocessed claims before the end of September, which it promised in a recent announcement. Lawmakers said that date is pushing it, as some Californians will have gone almost seven months without a single payment from the state.