California unemployment claims surge since coronavirus outbreak staff KABC logo
Sunday, March 22, 2020
Attorney answers your COVID-19 unemployment questions
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Can I collect unemployment during a coronavirus closure? Can I be fired if I'm unable to work from home? Employment attorney Angela Reddock-Wright has the answers to your questions about jobs and employment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As more businesses shut their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, many have either lost their jobs or aren't being paid.

That's led to an increase in unemployment filings both nationwide and in California. And it's a trend that's likely to continue.

Gov. Gavin Newsom spelled out on Saturday examples of how the unemployment figures have shown sharp increases from day to day.

At the start of the week, he said, the state saw 40,000 unemployment filings. The figure jumped to 70,000 the next day and then hit 135,000 by Thursday.

"We're filled with anxiety, a tremendous amount of uncertainty," Newsom acknowledged. "And it's understandable."

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Nationwide,the number of unemployment claims filed during week ended March 14, increased by 25% from the previous week. That is also a 28% increase compared to the same time last year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor's weekly unemployment insurance data.

California saw an increase bigger than the national average - an increase of 34% from 43,385 in the first week of March to 58,208 in the second. That's 42% more than the same time last year.

California Employment Development Department public information officer Barry White confirmed this increase in an email.

"There has been a huge spike in the number of claims coming in from impacted Californians," wrote White. "The EDD is applying a variety of strategies to direct as many staff resources as possible to keep up with the increase claim load."