Problems for thousands of newly unemployed shift from filing claims to getting paid

Hawaii state unemployment office
Hawaii state unemployment office(Hawaii state unemployment office)
Published: Apr. 9, 2020 at 5:07 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The number of new unemployment claims has dropped for several days in a row, in a sign that layoffs in Hawaii may be stabilizing.

Still, more than 207,000 people in the islands are out work because of the coronavirus shutdown.

And the sudden surge has been extremely difficult for the state Labor Department to handle.

It took about a week for the agency to upgrade the technology in March to take in new claims online and staff increased from seven to 83. The combination helped as the number of filings skyrocketed.

Those who have successfully made claims are now running into another problem ― updating the weekly certification requirements.

Agency Director Scott Murakami said his office is waiving the deadlines right now.

“They’re getting timed out or they can’t log on. what I can tell people is that we will back date the weekly certifications if they’re not able to do it timely so we’re trying to manage that traffic now.”

Murakami said upgrades to the system at the new Kakaako phone bank Wednesday have helped.

The call center was crashing after its launch Monday but Thursday was able to handle the volume.

While the calls were able to go through the hold times were still long because there weren’t enough staff members to answer all of them.

Murakami said they are trying to tackle one problem after another, but he points out that some people have finally started getting paid.

The process that took 14 days before the coronavirus outbreak is now taking about 21 days.

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