OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU)) - Despite a very small downtick California's unemployment claims, the overall picture is growing ever darker as numbers rose nationwide for the second straight week.
The Governor has deployed a high-level strike force to speed up payment of the Employment Development Department's backlog of more than a million claims.
At a state legislative hearing on Thursday, elected officials said they want many improvements right now.
Since March, EDD has processed 8.7 million unemployment claims, paid out $53 billion in benefits, hired thousands of new staffers, has been working seven-days-a-week, and implementing a new call center.
Thursday morning, EDD released the latest claims numbers that show 473,000 Californians applied for either state unemployment benefits or Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).
"The number is enormous, just enormous," said Labor Lawyer and Former EED Director Michael Bernick.
The Californians who applied for federal relief are not eligible for a state check. However, Californians make up 27 percent of the nation's federal pandemic claims; far above our percent of the nation's population.
"Not only the high number of claims, but the fact that businesses are closing permanently and workers who were being furloughed are now being turned into layoffs," said Bernick.
Nationally in the April to June quarter, the U.S. economy shrank by a shocking 33% annualized rate, said economist Professor Jim Wilcox of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.
"We've never seen such a sudden, huge drop like this in a single quarter," said Wilcox.
"So, we're seeing that a lot of the initial furloughs and attempts to hang on, businesses are now turning these into layoffs and closures," said Bernick.
He said the U.S. will have to rebuild its economy back up because a lot of businesses aren't going to be able to survive the pandemic.