Obama administration urges California to ensure jobless benefits

08:18, October 10, 2009      

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The Obama administration has urged California to "ensure proper and prompt delivery" of unemployment services to claimants and employers," a newspaper report said on Friday.

California is required to explain how furloughs for state workers are affecting the state's ability to meet an escalating demand for unemployment insurance benefits and services to millions of jobless people, the Los Angeles Times said.

A regional administrator at the Labor Department has written to the California Employment Development Department, asking it to demonstrate that no decline in the federally financed unemployment insurance program "will occur as the result of this statewide action," said the paper.

Richard Trigg, who runs the federal Employment and Training Administration's office in San Francisco, gave the state 15 days to reply. He noted that states are obliged by law "to ensure proper and prompt delivery" of unemployment services to claimants and employers.

He noted that federal "grants to the state could be jeopardized" by poor performance in running the California unemployment insurance program.

California's unemployment rate reached a post World War II high of 12.2 percent in August. The state is paying more than 30 million U.S. dollars a day in benefits to some 2.2 million people, and all of that money is provided by the federal government.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered nearly all the state's approximately 230,000 civil servants to take three unpaid days off each month.

Critics, including labor unions and advocates for low-wage workers, contend that the governor's insistence on forcing unemployment insurance administration workers to take furloughs is contributing to backlogs in processing benefits and in hearing appeals in disputes over a jobless person's eligibility for the program.

Source: Xinhua
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