Calif to Open Unemployment Centers on Saturdays

SACRAMENTO (AP) - The state is opening 25 employment offices on
Saturdays to help thousands of Californians file for unemployment

Employment Development Department director Patrick Henning said Friday that "extraordinarily difficult times" prompted the agency to add operating hours.

California's unemployment rate hit 10.5 percent in February.

Henning says call volumes and claims for benefits are at record levels; the department processed 525,000 initial claims in January alone.

Staff at the centers will help claimants use phones or computers to file for unemployment benefits. Call centers will also be open.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday signed a bill that will extend unemployment benefits in California by 20 weeks, to a total of 79 weeks. That will make California eligible for about $3 billion in federal funding.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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