LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Millions of Americans who remain out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic have grown frustrated while trying to apply for unemployment.
Cassandra Minton is a single mom who is out of work after her hair salon was forced to close when the Safer-At-Home order went into effect last month
Since then, she has been trying to contact the Employment Development Department or EDD.
“I tried calling at 8 a.m. when the opened, until a few minutes before 8, at random times throughout the day, and I was never able to get through, not once,” Minton said.
Faced with a record number of unemployment claims — 2.7 million in California over a four-week period — EDD expanded its phone service hours from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
EDD also added more than 1,000 employees to its call center.
Even with the longer hours, people are still frustrated that they can’t get through to the department.
Mike Fierro has been out of work for over a month and has yet to receive anything from unemployment.
“There is no progress. I call sometimes hundreds of times in one day,” said Fierro. “I always just get hung up on, never even put on hold.”
CBSLA’s Kristine Lazar attempted to get through on the EDD’s original number, and the new number it is now directing people to call, but there was no answer.
Kevin Rafferty, who works as a visual effects supervisor, said his previous unemployment ran out right before the crisis began.
He’s eligible for another 12 weeks of benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.
After weeks of waiting to apply, applications for those traditionally ineligible for benefits will now be accepted beginning April 28.
“I think everyone is going to get online on Tuesday and crash the system,” Rafferty said.
Minton said she is running out of time.
“Maybe another month or so, I will be completely out of money,” she said.
EDD did not respond for comment but the State Labor Secretary said she is aware of ongoing problems and that they are working on it.