SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Millions of Californians living on the edge without a job and getting unemployment benefits are about to get hundreds more each week.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that starting Sunday, April 12, Californians receiving unemployment will start getting an extra $600 on top of their weekly amount.
“Many Californians are feeling the effects of this pandemic, and this added benefit is very important to our workers so they have needed resources during this difficult time,” said Newsom at Thursday’s COVID-19 update.
The benefit increase is part of the new Pandemic Additional Compensation through the CARES Act. It also comes as record numbers of unemployment claims in the state are being filed every week.
Data shows that just for the week ending on Saturday, April 4, the state's Employment Development Department (EDD) processed more than 925,000 claims. It represents a 2,418% increase over the same week last year.
In the last month, the state processed about 2.3 million claims, that's more than all of 2019. Additionally, the EDD paid a total of nearly $684.3 million in unemployment benefits to Californians in need in the last month.
The new benefit is expected to help Californians and small businesses, Newsom said Thursday. However, the state is now seeing an increase in complaints from unemployed Californians who haven't been able to get through to the employment department by phone to get help on how to apply.
Jose, who didn’t want to be fully identified, told ABC10 he called the EDD 39 times and there was no answer. He is self-employed and because of the stay-at-home order, he has not been able to work. He says his girlfriend has also been furloughed because of the coronavirus. He filed for unemployment through the EDD’s website a few days ago but hasn’t received a check.
"I received an email saying that my account was made online and that is all I have received," Jose told ABC10.
Newsom said he's aware of the problems and the state will work to have it resolved soon. In fact, state officials are now calling for the EDD to expand call center hours immediately. Currently call centers are open daily from 8 a.m. to noon.
"There is no money coming in, but the bills keep coming. It's pretty frustrating and it's pretty scary too,” Jose said.
For more information on how to apply for unemployment insurance benefits and about the new $600 additional payments, visit the EDD website.
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