Another 533,000 Californians filed unemployment claims last week, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday, bringing the state's total since stay-at-home orders were put in place to roughly 3.3 million.
The filings include workers who have lost jobs, had their hours reduced or been furloughed as the state ordered businesses shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, the Public Policy Institute of California reported on Thursday that the hardest hit industries in the state employ a larger share of women, Latinos and young adults. The nonpartisan think tank warned that the job losses reported so far are a fraction of those lost.
“The staggering number of recent unemployment claims indicates that the losses in the March data are only the tip of the iceberg,” noted PPIC, citing the nearly 100,000 jobs eliminated in California in March. “April data will no doubt show deeper declines and a widening impact across sectors.”
California’s spike in jobless claims has strained state resources and led to persistent complaints about the length of time it takes to file for benefits at the state’s Employment Development Department.
“We are working overtime on that. … We understand we have to do better,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said at his daily news conference on the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
He said the state is “adding a few hundred more personnel” to help EDD process claims faster. This comes after the state redirected more than 1,300 employees to help the agency in recent weeks.
Last week, Newsom signed an executive order to expand the agency’s call center hours. Starting this week, EDD launched a new call center that now operates seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Previously, EDD’s phone lines were staffed for only four hours each morning Monday through Friday.
The state’s 533,000 jobless filings are down from the previous week when 655,000 unemployment claims were filed, according to the Labor Department.
The state’s filings were the most in the nation, followed by Florida’s 505,000.
California’s unemployment rate jumped to 5.3 percent last month as employers eliminated nearly 100,000 positions, according to data for March released earlier this month by EDD. The bulk of those job losses took place in three service sector categories, according to PPIC’s blog post “Early Insights on California’s Economic Downturn,” published today.
The categories are arts, entertainment and recreation; accomodation and food; and “other services,” which includes automotive repair, personal care and dry cleaning, the post said.
PPIC said the early data show workers in the initially affected industries are more likely to be women, Latinos and young adults compared to workers in other sectors.
While some states plan to allow businesses to reopen as early as this week, Newsom said yesterday that California needs to increase daily coronavirus testing by at least four-fold before it can restart the state’s economy.
CapRadio continues to answer questions here about filing for unemployment assistance in the state.
Workers in California who have lost income due to COVID-19 can file for benefits at the state’s Employment Development Department’s website.
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.