More than 60,000 have filed for unemployment in Hawaii so far this month

Updated: Mar. 25, 2020 at 3:50 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some 60,463 people have filed for unemployment so far this month as the state’s no. 1 economic driver ― tourism ― comes to a standstill and social distancing mandates close hundreds of businesses, from nail salons to department stores to bars.

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said 20,041 filed for unemployment on Tuesday alone. That tops the one-day record from the day before of 19,534.

Here’s a day-by-day breakdown since last week:

  • March 19: 1,117
  • March 20: 1,679
  • March 21: 3,914
  • March 22: 4,996
  • March 23: 19,534
  • March 24: 20,041
  • Total: 51,281

Scott Murakami, Director of the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations says we’re only just beginning to see the economic impacts of the pandemic and the numbers won’t level off anytime soon.

“When we look at the entire tourism industry, I believe the estimates are 250,000 workers in the entire cluster." The cluster includes restaurants and businesses affected by tourism, not just the airlines and hotels.

The numbers are jaw-dropping.

[Read more: University of Hawaii economist warns layoffs in Hawaii could top 100,000]

Last week, the online filing system was overwhelmed and thousands reported being unable to make claims.

The new online system launched Monday and is working much more smoothly.

For those who still cannot use it, there are phone numbers they can call:

  • 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

Murakami says he is bringing in workers on the Kuhio Day holiday on Thursday to answer those calls:

A phone bank of volunteers could also be added in the next few days as employees from other state agencies have offered to help.

Murakami is looking to beef up his full time staff to help process all the claims coming in. He told Hawaii News Now he made job offers to three people Wednesday and is looking for 20 more to bring the total in the claims office to 68. Last week they were at just 7 staff members.

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