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Employment Development Department
Employment Development Department

Record Year for Unemployment Claims and Benefits

Following the highest levels of unemployment since the early 1940s, California, as well as the rest of the nation, has experienced unprecedented workload levels. In looking back at 2009, the Employment Development Department saw an incredible spike in the demand for Unemployment Insurance benefits, an unprecedented expansion of the federal extension program, and our systems taxed as they’ve never been before. Through it all, EDD has processed unemployment claims that have shattered all prior records, and we continue to enhance our systems so that our customers will experience greater ease this year in starting and managing their Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims.

A record high 1.4 million Californians were certifying for UI benefits in November 2009, according to the most recent information available. In all of 2009, EDD paid $20.2 billion in UI benefits that not only helped sustain families during this difficult time, but also helped support local communities struggling to survive the economic pressures.

The growth in UI claims has been stunning through the course of this recession.

In data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor, California last year processed twice as many regular UI claims as the next highest state in the nation, Pennsylvania (California with 3.8 million regular UI claims vs. Pennsylvania with 1.9 million).

Hiring and Initiatives to Enhance Customer Experience

We know with this kind of demand on the UI program can make it difficult for some of our customers to reach us. Call attempts to our UI Call Centers doubled in 2009, with an average of around 1.1 million call attempts a day. We also saw record-shattering increases in inquiries and applications filed online through our EDD Web site.
To respond to these demands, dedicated staff have been working overtime and on furlough days to ensure a vast majority of our customers continue to receive their benefits timely.

We’ve invested in developing new online tools and revising our Web site information so we can provide our customers more convenient assistance. We’ve also launched a new automated self-help phone line so customers can retrieve status information about their UI checks, as well as where to find the nearest local employment office to assist with job searches.

There are still more changes to come this year that will ease the customer experience even more. Watch this spring for the launch of an improved online application. EDD also plans to implement this year:

We thank our customers for their patience during this extraordinary demand period in our state’s and nation’s history. EDD remains committed to serving our customers and assisting them through these difficult times and we are dedicated to adopting customer-friendly enhancements to ease the experience of filing for UI and collecting benefits.