A year into pandemic, demand on EDD remains high

Posted at 7:51 AM, Mar 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-13 10:51:41-05

Millions of workers across California got a new experience in the last year: filing for unemployment with the EDD.

For some, it was easy, others a nightmare. And while the situation has improved, there is still work to be done.

Adelyn Reed was abroad in Paris in March 2020, when she got the call to come home. The coronavirus was spreading too fast.

“It was a little scary at first just because there was so much we didn't know in the beginning,” Reed said.

She returned to San Diego, ready to go back to work at La Mesa’s Brew Coffee Spot. But that wasn't happening either due to the shut down order.

“I wasn't ever planning on going on unemployment, but it kind of just ended up happening with the case and not having a job when I came back,” Reed said.

She had plenty of company. More than three million Californians filed for unemployment in the height of the pandemic, overwhelming the aged system at the Employment Development Department.

"It was not equipped for the tsunami of claims and layoffs, and their technology was not where it needed to be, and you've heard all the stories of people waiting forever just to be able to get their services,” said Peter Callstrom, CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership.

In the last year, the EDD has gone through audits, froze 1.4 million accounts due to fraud concerns, and is now the target of new reform legislation.

But despite vaccine distribution growing and some restrictions lifting, the demand for EDD services remains high in San Diego (8 percent unemployment) , San Luis Obispo (6.7 percent unemployment) and Bakersfield (11.3 percent unemployment).

On Thursday, the EDD reported another 100,000 Californians filed for jobless benefits for the first time. That’s way down from the record 1.05 million who filed for benefits in the last week of March 2020.

“We’re all about retraining, re-skilling, up-skilling, and being able to support workers where they are, so they can move on to the next stage in their career,” Callstrom said.

The workforce partnership offers a variety of retraining programs at no cost.

Reed didn't have an issue getting unemployment, which helped her pay the bills before she went back to brew coffee spot, where she is working reduced hours.

“It does in a sense feel a little surreal, but I think having been through all this in a year, it's kind of started to settle in a little bit more,” she said.

Reed graduates from San Diego State University this summer, debt free, and hopes to find a full-time job in marketing.