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As we enter August, the rent or mortgage is due Saturday, and for thousands of Californians it's still a battle for their unemployment benefits.

"Next month I'm worried about my rent, my car payment. Thank God I only have one credit card," says Cathy Muna.

She says the problem has been her full name on her birth certificate and EDD records.

Talking to a live person has been a nightmare.

"All you get is recording, recording, recording, you can't even leave a message. When I looked at it it said I was disqualified no payment and this time I'm panicking," says Muna.

The California unemployment agency faces a lot of criticism over delays with thousands of claims.

EDD says there are 6 million eligible people who have filed claims. About 4.8 million of those have been paid and 1.2 million claims are still waiting. Another 1 million are considered in ending status while EDD tries to resolve issues such as identification or getting additional information. Those are the ones that can take weeks or months.

Labor attorney Angela Reddock-Wright says, "California and other states simply were not prepared for that. They didn't have enough employees, the computer systems were not set up to take in the sheer number of claims that have come in."

Lawmakers in Sacramento held a hearing to question EDD officials about all these problems. They say it's been devastating to people during this crisis.

Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) says, "These are people that are talking about having their last serving of ramen, living in their cars and these are people we live with."

Muna says she is very worried.

"I think we need to go to those food banks and we're going to need to get food that way because we're not going to be able to do it."

EDD blames some of the problems on old technology. Lawmakers say that doesn't work for people who need their benefits now.

Gov. Gavin Newsom launched a strike team to work with EDD to process claims faster but some could still take weeks.

Newsom announces reforms to improve processing CA unemployment claims amid coronavirus-driven backlog
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As Californians struggle financially during the pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced changes to address the back up at the Employment Development Department.

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Tags: personal finance personal finance gavin newsom economy unemployment california coronavirus unemployment covid 19

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Jobless claims fall to 963,000, ending 20-week streak of claims above a million

The number of new applications for unemployment benefits last week was 963,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday, as jobless claims for the first time dropped below a million after 20 consecutive weeks of being above that figure

Economist had projected that claims would total 1.1 million.

Still, the persistently high number of claims suggests the jobs recovery is moving at a slow pace.

After jobless claims skyrocketed in March, with 6.9 million filing for benefits for the week ending March 28, the number of workers claiming unemployment benefits dropped precipitously through the end of May, but had yet to fall below a million until this week.

As multitudes of workers file for unemployment each week, Washington has struggled to extend the $600 enhanced weekly employment benefit that expired last month. Lawmakers in both parties, including President Trump, support extending the enhanced benefit, but they can’t agree on a dollar amount for the payment.

Trump signed an executive order on Saturday meant to provide a $400 bonus payment to unemployed workers. However, that would be $200 less than what the previous benefits provided before expiring in July.

House Democrats passed legislation that would extend the $600 payment until Jan. 31, 2021, for most jobless workers.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans included a $200 additional unemployment payment in the HEALS Act that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, released in July.

Democrats and Republicans, including White House officials, last week failed to reach an agreement on a federal relief package that likely would have extended the enhanced unemployment payment at some level. Further negotiations on that relief plan have so far not been announced.

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