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Many Californian’s Jobless Aid Held Up By Backlogs In Unemployment System, Hindered By Widespread Fraud




Faustino, who is currently unemployed, waits after filling out unemployment forms in a bookkeeping shop near the U.S.-Mexico border in Imperial County, which has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, on July 24, 2020 in Calexico, California.
Faustino, who is currently unemployed, waits after filling out unemployment forms in a bookkeeping shop near the U.S.-Mexico border in Imperial County, which has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, on July 24, 2020 in Calexico, California.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

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California’s unemployment process has been hampered with issues throughout the pandemic, culminating in a huge backlog of unemployment claims and widespread fraud that could amount to billions of dollars.

Bank of America, which has been distributing unemployment benefits to Californians through prepaid credit cards since the Great Recession, estimated last week that fraud in the state’s unemployment system could total $2 billion. It is the highest estimate of fraud since the COVID-19 pandemic triggered widespread joblessness in California, prompting the state to pay out $110 billion. Bank of America responded by freezing accounts it identified as suspicious, inadvertently freezing the accounts of many Californians with legitimate claims, who are now unable to access their money. This is hardly the first hiccup in the system this year; California’s Employment Development Department has drawn frustration throughout the pandemic, as many jobless residents have reported delays in payment or no payments at all. 

Today on AirTalk, we’re discussing the latest on what is happening in California’s unemployment system. Questions? Give us a call at 866-893-5722.

We reached out to Governor Newsom’s office, but did not receive a response by air time.

Guests:

Lauren Hepler, economy reporter for CalMatters who has been reporting on the story; she tweets @lahepler

Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), assemblymember representing California’s 74th assembly district, which extends from Huntington Beach to Laguna Beach and includes a portion of Irvine; she tweets @AsmCottie