Ten Facts You Should Know About California’s Unemployment Insurance Program

1. Every day, California's Employment Development Department pays out, on average, $80 million in unemployment insurance checks. They paid over $20 billion in benefits in 2009. The UI program is our state’s frontline defense for our state’s economic recovery.

2. Over 1.4 million laid off Californians depend on their UI benefits on any day. The number of claims processed by EDD nearly doubled from 2008 to 2009.

3. With such high need for services, there is no Director appointed to the EDD. Patrick Henning retired in December 2009. It is shocking that the Governor has appointed no leader to this highly important position.

4. With unemployment at 12.5%, EDD’s infrastructure is falling apart. Laid off workers must call dozens of times before they can get through on the phone lines.

5. No one at EDD”s one-stop offices can help with unemployment insurance claims. Laid off workers may be able to find job services, training information, and job listings at the one-stops. But, if they have a UI question, they are pointed to a phone.

6. The EDD computer system is built on COBOL, the oldest computer language that few use anymore and the computer system is from the 1950s.

7. EDD workers, represented by SEIU Local 1000, have been furloughed, even though their positions are 100% funded by the federal government. No state funds are saved by furloughs at EDD.

8. Furlough isn’t quite right. EDD is under “self-directed” furlough. Which means you work five days a week and bank a furlough day that you must use by the end of 2011 or lose it. And your pay is cut 15%.

9. Because of the high service demand, EDD workers are working overtime on Saturdays. From February – October 2009, EDD staff earned nearly $30 million in overtime pay.

10. The final dagger in our UI program – we’ve borrowed $8 billion from the federal government to pay for our UI benefits. Our UI trust fund is flat broke because we have the lowest tax base and tax rate in the country. If we don’t repay our federal loan by the end of 2011, we must pay interest on all of it. More on this issue in future postings.