Additional 5.2 million Americans applied for unemployment last week, bringing total to 22 million

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As businesses remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people out of work has sent a shock to the unemployment system.

The Labor Department reports an additional 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total number of filings to 22 million, or roughly 13.5% of the labor force.

That number includes 2.7 million Californians.

"We are in the process right now of dealing with an unprecedented number of people making phone calls into EDD, our Employment Development Department," said California Gov. Gavin Newsom. "We are trying to process these applications, and we're trying to turnaround those applications in real-time."

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Many who are jobless have reported difficulties getting through to the EDD call center, which has only been open weekdays from 8 a.m. until noon.

To address the high volume of calls, Gov. Newsom says EDD will expand its call center hours to seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. beginning next Monday.

"740 individuals within EDD have re-positioned themselves and gotten trained and are now re-deployed in a position to address the call volume but moreover to answer those calls to give you quality information," Newsom said.

He also announced a $125 million relief package to help 150,000 undocumented immigrants.

Only citizens and others who are in the U.S. legally can receive unemployment benefits.

"Regardless of your status, documented or undocumented, there are people in this state that step up, always to support those in need, regardless of status."

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