HONOLULU(KHON2)–Unemployment numbers continue to rise every day with more than 60,000 claims filed since the beginning of March. And more than half of those were filed in the last two days. New legislation is meant to help those who are laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic cope financially.
Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Scott Murakami said they are working as quickly as they can.
“We’re making progress in a number of areas but again I’m not going to be happy until we can generate checks and people are getting their claims filed,” Murakami said.
Claims since the start of the week have soared. Monday 19,534 claims were filed and on Tuesday 20,041 were filed.
“With this tremendous volume that we’re seeing it’s just unbelievable how many people coming and in need of assistance.”
KHON: “When are checks expected to go out do you have any idea?”
“At this point we are, I know the normal check processing is happening, but for new claimants I am trying my very best and the department is trying their very best to honor our standard 14 day processing time. But at this time I just don’t know and I don’t want to promise your viewers anything that I can’t deliver,” Murakami said.
Those who do file a claim are currently not required to search for a job.
“We’ve waived the job search requirements so recipients no longer need to do the job search. We realize that with the situation we’re facing that just wouldn’t make sense,” Murakami said.
As for his staff, Murakami said they are doing their best to get more workers to ensure claims are filed as quickly as possible.
“Due to redistribution of workers in DLIR, we’re now up to 45 staff members.”
He said they are also hiring 15 new unemployment insurance assistants.
A $2 trillion stimulus package, the largest of its kind in history, being voted on at Capitol Hill could boost unemployment benefits by extending them an additional 13 weeks. The bill would also allow general contractors and other freelance workers to qualify for unemployment. And it would send checks for $1200 Americans making less than $75,000 a year.
If you need to apply for unemployment go to the state labor departments web site. Murakami said they created a new web-form for filing claims that is available 24-7. The office remains closed to walk-ins and in-person services.