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Asm. Mike A. Gipson appalled at EDD’s Failure to Serve and Protect California’s Unemployed During Pandemic

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO, Calif --- (Nov. 20, 2020)    Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) released the following statement as millions of unemployed Californians continue to suffer the chronic and critical ineptness of the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD):

“Since business shutdowns imposed by state and local government officials began in mid-March, a stunning 8.13 million California workers have filed initial claims for unemployment benefits, reports filed by the U.S. Labor Department show.’ (Mercury News, Sept. 3, 2020.’

“Friday, the California State Auditor released a report stating that the beleaguered department persisted in mailing documents containing social security numbers putting Californians at risk for identity theft.

“In March 2019, auditors recommended that EDD remove Social Security Numbers (SS#s) from three unemployment insurance forms by March 2020. One year later, this still has not happened. Since Covid-19 caused unemployment claims to surge in March 2020, EDD sent at least 38 million pieces of mail with SS#s.

“In January 2021, the State Auditor will publicly release the results of an emergency audit of EDD’s response to the surge of unemployment claims. At the request of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee as well as through separate statutory authority, the State Auditor is auditing EDD’s backlog of unemployment claims, its call center performance, and the adequacy of its information technology infrastructure.

“If the high volume of calls received by my office on a daily basis is any indication, Californians are deeply suffering for EDD’s mistakes. In September, EDD put a pause on new claims until Oct. 5 to implement an automatic identify-verification tool to speed up processing times. Identity-verification but no identity-protection?  

“Additionally, during recent months, millions of dollars of fraudulent EDD benefits were paid

out to criminals.  According to ABC7 news, ‘…as many as one out of three unemployment claims filed in California may be fraudulent -- That's the estimate from a security company hired by EDD to assist in stopping such claims.’

“In Sept. 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ‘strike team’ report found that nearly 1.6 million claims remained pending and the backlog would not be fully cleared until Jan. 27, 2021, even as it continues to grow by at least 10,000 claims per day.

“None of these findings help the growing number of individuals and families who find themselves without food and shelter as a result of Covid-19 loss of jobs – and unemployment benefits.

“This is unacceptable and an emergency. California is the 5th largest economy in the world and we are doing no better than third world countries in caring for our unemployed labor force and homeless. There is no time for more studies, surveys, investigations, or circular conversations – this must be fixed – NOW!”