Unemployment claims soar with government shutdown - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Unemployment claims soar with government shutdown

It's the biggest jump in jobless claims since the "Great Recession."

Unemployment claims statewide soared nearly 90 percent to 3,448 during the week of Oct. 1, which is when the federal government shutdown went into effect.

"We did have a heavy workload due to federal claims. We took in approximately 2,400 federal claims last week," said Ellen Kai, unemployment insurance claims supervisor with the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

On a county-by-county basis, Oahu saw the largest increase -- 136.4 percent -- followed by Kauai, where claims increased 43 percent. New unemployment filings on the Big Island and Maui were up 24.1 percent and 22 percent.

"It's not surprising to see that kind of increase because obviously with the shutdown, you would expect it to jump," said Leroy Laney, economics and finance professor at Hawaii Pacific University.

But state officials said first-time jobless claim are beginning to slowdown this week. On Saturday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered Hawaii's 20,000 civilian Defense workers back to work when he rescinded the furloughs of the nation's 400,000 DOD civilian workers.

About 950 federal workers filed for unemployment during the first three days of this week, Kai said.

"We're still seeing the effects on a year over year basis on the numbers but the impact is, hopefully, behind us," said Laney.

A large segment of Hawaii's federal work force remains on furlough. The nonmilitary federal sector employs about 8,000 local residents.

We spoke with a number of employees who were still on furlough and many told us that they had filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week and were worried about making ends meet.

Several employees who have been ordered back to work said that the shutdown is still weighing on their finances.

"We're worried about whether we're going to pay our bills on time and what's going to happen as far as my job. It's just scary," said Denny Sebala, a Pearl Harbor Shipyard Employee.


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