Benefiting Californians | August 2023
Welcome to the new Employment Development Department (EDD) newsletter, where we will share our story as the administrator of one of the nation’s largest public benefit systems—with over 21 million people filing 63 million unemployment, disability, and Paid Family Leave benefits claims over the past decade. We’re also the State’s largest tax collection agency and an integral player in the State’s workforce development system. This newsletter will help us transparently share our progress with some regular communication to help better inform you on the major changes impacting EDD customers.
- Announcing a New How to Apply for Unemployment Guide
- EDD Investigators Receive National Recognition
- The EDD to Publish Updated California Jobs Market Briefing
- Work Sharing Awareness Increases
- Supporting Businesses and Their Role in the Economy
- Modernizing With EDDNext
- Serving a Diverse California
- EDD By The Numbers
Announcing a New How to Apply for Unemployment Guide
Applying for unemployment benefits can be a complicated process due to the many federal and state laws that govern eligibility. To help guide our customers, we developed the new How to Apply for Unemployment (DE 2321) (PDF) guide for unemployment benefits. It’s based on customer research and feedback, including from community-based organizations that work directly with customers. The guide is available in English and Spanish with additional language options being developed next.
Our goal is to provide a claimant-friendly, easy-to-read document simplifying the process to apply for unemployment benefits. It has step-by-step guidance, tips, and links to extra resources. We encourage you to check out the new guide and share it with those you know who may need unemployment benefits.
EDD Investigators Receive National Recognition
The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General (DOL-OIG) recently awarded EDD investigators with Special Recognition awards citing they were “significantly instrumental in combatting COVID-19 unemployment fraud alongside the OIG over the last three years.” The awards reflect the EDD’s work to help recover billions of dollars of stolen federal pandemic funds stemming from fraud attacks during 2020 and to hold criminals accountable.
California took a leadership role in implementing new fraud fighting tools and law enforcement efforts. In 2021, President Biden established three COVID-19 Strike Force teams to target pandemic fraud. The OIG insisted EDD investigators join federal law enforcement agencies on the Strike Force team assigned to California since the EDD is the only state workforce agency to have a body of sworn peace officers and enjoys a long history of partnering with federal investigators.
The EDD’s aggressive response to fraud blocked over $125 billion in fraud attempts and helped recover nearly $2 billion in stolen pandemic funds to date. Since 2020, EDD investigators have contributed to law enforcement efforts by opening over 1,800 investigations—leading to arrests of over 600 suspects, and convicting over 300 perpetrators from California, across the country, and overseas.
California Governor Gavin Newsom also appointed former two-time U.S. Attorney and elected District Attorney, McGregor Scott, to serve as the EDD Fraud Special Counsel. Scott and his team leverage EDD data sources and cutting-edge data analytics to identify and refer cases to state and federal law enforcement agencies for investigation and prosecution of violators.
The EDD to Publish Updated California Jobs Market Briefing
In celebration of the upcoming Labor Day holiday, we will publish our annual labor market report that summarizes the current outlook of California’s labor market, featuring trending occupations and industries.
The forthcoming 2023 California Jobs Market Briefing, produced by the EDD’s Labor Market Information Division (LMID), will describe employment and job creation trends over the last year; highlight top, in-demand occupations along with the skills required and average salaries; and include a job seeker’s toolkit with resources and available services. Analysts will also detail the occupations that are expected to continue experiencing strong growth in the coming year. Look for more information to come showcasing services that connect workers with in-demand skills to employers in search of qualified candidates. Follow us on social media for an alert when this briefing is published and more great information for job seekers this Labor Day!
In addition, the LMID recently published a product designed to assist students and jobseekers with planning for their educational and career goals. The longstanding California Occupational Guides, a product which has been an EDD staple since the 1950s, has been reimagined and rebranded as a dynamic, interactive dashboard on our website.
Awarded the Best State Labor Market Information Product for Supporting Jobseekers by the LMI Institute in 2022, the new-look Occupational Guides allow users to sort through over 800 occupations; focus their research based on their preferences for desired wages, location, or educational requirements; and compare and contrast two to three desired occupations.
Work Sharing Awareness Increases
Last year, we completed streamlining the Work Sharing application process and kicked off a public awareness campaign about the unemployment program designed to help employers avoid the costs of layoffs while holding onto their skilled employees. On every front, the results have been impressive. Over the past year we have seen a 31 percent increase in employer applications and a 20 percent boost in employer awareness about the program. We also launched a dedicated Work Sharing help line (1-916-464-3343) and hosted four full capacity webinars about the program with more to come. Register now for our August 17, 2023, webinar or review our schedule for the rest of the year.
We strongly encourage any employers thinking about layoffs to instead try the newly revamped Work Sharing program. It’s now fast, simple, and flexible to participate. The program allows employers to reduce hours and wages to ride out economic downturns (or other situations triggering potential downsizing) while the EDD pays partial unemployment benefits to help support employees – positively impacting worker morale and loyalty.
To further raise awareness about this valuable program, we sent targeted emails to employers who are most likely to benefit. Specifically, EDD analyzes data from Dun & Bradstreet, a leading global provider of business decisioning data and analytics, for companies and industries that are at a higher risk of layoffs. We proactively contact them to provide information about Work Sharing as an alternative to layoffs. To date we have sent more than 3,700 emails to financially stressed employers in the State.
Supporting Businesses and Their Role in the Economy
We strongly support local businesses in California. Last quarter, EDD tax auditors met with the Nuad Thai and Spa Association of America (NTSAA) to share information about proper worker classification and state payroll tax laws to help them in their efforts to understand and stay in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
NTSAA is a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization with approximately 400 members statewide. There are over 1,000 Thai spas in the US with the majority in California.
“We admire their professionalism and the excellent knowledge they have shown during the entire presentation,” said Keith Chatprapachai, Senior Advisor to NTSAA, in writing to the EDD about the assistance. “We are very fortunate to have both to join us and appreciate your kindness to allow them to come. We are appreciative to the Training and Outreach Group, Central Operations-Audit Section…”
Modernizing With EDDNext
Our customer service is being significantly improved through EDDNext by incorporating language options, more self-service, and benefit system integration. In June, we launched a new shared customer portal called myEDD. It’s a more secure, user-friendly, online access to unemployment, disability and Paid Family Lave benefits. myEDD replaces the old Benefit Programs Online (BPO).
myEDD had nearly one million customer logins and 100,000 new accounts created since launching. The new system features a login verification process like what people experience with online banking verifications.
myEDD is part of EDDNext, which is improving the customer and employee experience through process and policy enhancements, and technology upgrades to speed up claims and improve service.
Significant customer research shapes these modernization efforts to ensure our services are more user-friendly. Based on customer feedback, we will shorten applications, improve readability, simplify content, and enhance accessibility.
Visit the myEDD webpage for more information on the new gateway to online benefit services, including available videos and FAQs to help guide customers through this transition.
Serving a Diverse California
Our Unemployment Insurance Customer Service Center now has dedicated phone lines with EDD staff fluent in California’s eight most-commonly spoken languages. The main unemployment phone number (1-800-300-5616) has been upgraded to include a language selection menu of all eight languages currently offered by the Unemployment Insurance Program. Menu selections and dedicated lines are available for English, Spanish, Armenian, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, and Vietnamese as well as free access to interpreter services for more than 100 other languages.
This streamlined enhancement to our automated phone system will allow callers to choose their preferred spoken language with a simple press of a button.
If a customer’s desired language is not one of the languages offered, they can select a new dedicated line, “Other Language,” where agents will get an interpreter at no cost to the customer. This technological advancement will transform how customers interact with our automated systems and improve the customer journey to access our Department’s critical services.
Our website has language resources, including how to access an interpreter, for the most-commonly spoken languages in California. Those resources are pinned to the top of our EDD website with the globe icon for easy location.
EDD By The Numbers
Subscribers who received the first inaugural Benefiting Californians newsletter in May.
People filing unemployment, disability, and Paid Family Leave benefit claims over the past decade.
California State Auditor recommendations EDD implemented to improve its operations and fraud fighting.
Total number of pageviews across the EDD website from mid-June through mid-July.
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