According to the Employment Development Department (EDD), California is on track this year to surpass the record $20.2 billion in total unemployment benefits paid to unemployed workers in 2009. Compared to $5 billion in normal, pre-recession years, this is an unprecedented jump, obviously a sign of the bleak economic times and 12 percent unemployment rate.  Among other things, EDD has responded to the situation by ramping up its technology program to enhance access to their Unemployment Insurance (UI) services.

Recently announced, the department is launching several technology projects that will further improve the process of filing for UI and collecting benefits for California’s unemployed.   Here is a list:

  • Technology that will allow customers to submit their bi-weekly claim forms online or to certify by telephone instead of the lengthier mail-in process.
  • New electronic benefit payments through a debit card or automatic deposit that will get benefits in the hands of customers faster.
  • Enhanced version of the online UI application that will be available for all customers, including those who’ve worked in federal government and military positions.
  • Call center upgrades that will improve EDD’s call routing capability to all UI centers during peak periods to improve access to telephone services.
  • Initial work on overhauling major sections of older processing systems so EDD can respond quickly to rapid changes in the UI program, like record-setting federal extensions of benefits.
  • For more information, check out the What’s New feature on EDD’s website at www.edd.ca.gov.