A record number of Californians are appealing to a state board after being rejected for unemployment benefits of up to $450 a week.
The U.S. Department of Labor says just 4 percent of complaints are reviewed within 30 days -- the required timeline for the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.
A record 68,000 out-of-work people and employers were awaiting action by the board at the end of January.
California takes longer to resolve unemployment appeals than any other state except Virginia, according to Labor Department data, and the federal government has demanded that the state come up with a plan to fix the mess this month, according to a published report.
State officials acknowledge that they are overwhelmed by the massive backlog, according to the Los Angeles Times. About 9 out of 10 appeals involved those who recently became unemployed and are denied benefits by the California Employment Development Department.
The number of those appeals has increased steadily since last summer as California's unemployment rate climbed to 9.3% in December, when 1.7 million Californians were without jobs, the paper reported.