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Coronavirus Unemployment: How Many People Are Really Getting Checks?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - The Employment Development Department (EDD) has processed more than 2.5 million unemployment claims but that doesn't mean 2.5 million people are getting the unemployment payments that they need to survive.

CBS13 Investigative Reporter Julie Watts is getting answers on what "2.5 million claims processed" really means.

In his press conference Friday, Governor Newsom touted the record number of unemployment claims processed by the EDD. But as many are learning the hard way, a "processed claim" doesn't mean your claim is approved or that you've even heard from the EDD.

"I haven't heard anything from them, in fact," said Danielle, an unemployed hairstylist.

Danielle says she's spent hours and hours sitting on hold -- desperate for help.

The EDD was supposed to call Eric to get more information before it could process his claim. Eric lost his job at Good Will.

"An EDD representative will call you at the following number," Eric read from a letter.

But he says the EDD never called.

Tiana, a formerly working mom, hasn't received a single response from the EDD and she says she's struggling to feed her family while she waits.

"If this is happening to me, I'm sure it's happening to other people, which is really unfortunate because we have kids," she said.

The EDD says it's processed more than 2.5 million claims in just the past few weeks, but that number includes people who've been denied like Danielle, people who are still trying to get a hold of the EDD to provide more information, like Eric, and people who have not heard anything from the EDD, like Tiana

Of the 2.5 million claims, how many have actually been approved and how many of those people have been paid?

Specifically, we asked the EDD:

Of the "claims processed" since the week ending March 21 (the week the Governor issued the stay at home order):

    • How many claimants have already received payment?
    • How many claims were approved?
    • How many claims were denied?
    • How many claims are still in process (EDD waiting for additional information)

We received no response. So, CBS13's Marissa Perlman asked the Governor herself at his daily press conference: "With more than 2.5 million unemployment claims, how many people have gotten money so far?" she asked.

The governor said he didn't know.

"I'll make sure a member of our team gets back to you," he replied.

The California Labor & Workforce Development Agency, which oversees the EDD, got back to us late Friday on behalf of the Governor.

The agency said that they're still working on getting specific numbers, but they said nearly 1.3 million payments were issued between March 8 and April 9. They later sent a follow-up email updating that number to "1.92 million UI payments made and $1.05 billion paid."

However, it is not clear how many, if any, of those payments went to the 2.5 million people who filed for UI since the start of the pandemic in March.

The agency could not identify how many of those payments went to people who were already collecting unemployment prior to the stay at home orders.

For example,  EDD's most recent data shows nearly 400,000 new claims were filed just from January to February 2020.

Hypothetically, if each of those 400,000 claimants received two payments between March 8-April 9, then nearly half of the payments issued so far could have gone to people who filed in the two months prior to the stay-at-home order.

Hundreds of thousands of additional checks could have also gone to claimants who filed near the end of 2019.

Of course, these are just hypothetical estimates as the EDD does not have this data available.

The California Labor & Workforce Development Agency says it will keep working to help us get these answers.

For now, we still don't know how many people who lost their jobs over the past month have actually received an unemployment payment.

Follow our continuing coverage as CBS13 works to get answers to your Coronavirus Unemployment Questions: 

CBS13 Investigates: Coronavirus Unemployment


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