Gov. Newsom reveals, one in five California workers have filed for unemployment since mid-March


Logan Bik

Restaurants around the country close their doors, leaving many Americans without jobs.

Samantha Bravo, Assistant Campus Editor

The demand for financial support continues to surge in light of the coronavirus pandemic as over 30 million Americans have filed an initial unemployment claim since mid-March, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May Revision.

One out of five California workers have filed for unemployment since mid-March, and a total of $12.3 billion in benefits has been paid to those eligible workers by the California Employment Development Department.

In efforts to slow the spread of the virus, large malls and department stores remain closed. Many of these workers turned to filing for unemployment benefits.

Last week, Newsom issued a May Revision to the state budget and addressed the scale of jobs loss in California. 

“Job losses have occurred in nearly every sector of the economy, but they have been most acute in sectors not fully able to telework such as leisure and hospitality, retail trade and personal services,” Newsom’s budget summary states. “Lower wage workers have disproportionately borne the impact of job losses.”

A total of 4.7 million unemployment claims have been processed in California since the surge in unemployment began in the month of March, according to EDD. Claims were reported to the Department of Labor and processed through Unemployment Insurance Online and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The PUA program runs through Dec. 31, 2020.

Unemployment pay includes an extra $600 federal stimulus payment provided by the coronavirus aid bill. The EDD automatically adds the federal payment to each week of benefits a claimant receives. The temporary emergency benefit increase of $600 per week will be provided through July 31, according to the EDD website.

“Unemployment insurance benefits in 2020-21 are estimated to be $43.8 billion, which is 650 percent higher than the $5.8 billion estimated in the Governor’s Budget. This is primarily supported by federal funding, federal loans and employer taxes,” the budget states. 

The IRS issued stimulus checks to aid U.S. citizens and residents during the pandemic. Those who are eligible to apply for unemployment are also eligible to apply and receive a EDD debit card, where unemployment payments are credited to, in their mail. The processing of an unemployment claim and payment issuance takes at least three weeks, according to the EDD. 

As some businesses moved to reopen, EDD provided a COVID-19 unemployment guide with answers to questions such as unemployment eligibility and whether an employee who applied for unemployment must return to work if their workplace has reopened. 

“Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and expected to return to work with their employer within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week,” the EDD website states. “However, they must remain able, available and ready to work during their unemployment for each week of benefits claimed and meet all other eligibility criteria.”

According to EDD, eligible individuals can receive Unemployment Insurance benefits that range from $40 to $450 per week depending on the maximum award allotted to each UI claim. The number of weeks an individual can receive payment ranges from 13 weeks to 26 weeks.

“During this time of unprecedented unemployment, the Administration will work in partnership with the Legislature to help get people back to work and support the creation of good-paying jobs,” the governor’s budget summary states. “It will develop proposals and actions to support a robust and equitable recovery both in the near term and the long term.”