After days of stumbles, state fixes system for filing unemployment claims

Updated: Mar. 24, 2020 at 8:26 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With tourism all but shut down in Hawaii, hundreds of workers are being laid off and encountering a system for unemployment claims that’s overwhelmed.

The state Labor and Industrial Relations office said the computer system that it had simply could not handle the number of newly unemployed trying to make claims.

Arnel Nacionales, a laid off hotel worker, went to the Honolulu office on Monday afternoon only to find it closed.

“I tried go online many times and it just seems like i can’t get in."

But Monday afternoon, it appears the office figured it out.

Two new gateway servers and two new web servers were added to help accommodate the wave of filers, and the amount of staff taking phone calls and processing claims was tripled.

The biggest change, though, a form that can be filled out online and sent in electronically, allowing people to file even after hours and on weekends. To access that form: click here.

All the changes came after days of trying various formulas that ended up hanging up on callers or nearly crashing the system.

The office even tried paper forms and drop boxes at locations, but those were shut down due to fears that the papers changing hands and mixing could help spread the virus even more.

Scott Murakami, director of the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, said his staff worked all weekend to make the changes,

“We know that a lot of people are hurting I’m just glad that we got this up and running.”

The gauge to show the improvements are working, the number of claims filed.

Last week Tuesday that number soared to 3,000 but Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the number of filings dropped significantly.

Not because people weren’t trying to file claims, but because the system wasn’t allowing them to do so.

Over the weekend, the numbers soared again, indicating the system was indeed working.

Saturday there were almost 4,000 new filings. Sunday, that number was almost 5,000.

Murakami expects that to continue as more businesses shutter this week. He says his office can now focus on processing the claims.

For those who cannot file online, there are two phone numbers to help you:

  • Password reset: (808) 762-5751 (for those who have previously filed but can’t remember their password to access their account)
  • Make an appointment to set up a claim: (808) 762-5752

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