EXCLUSIVE: State to close Waipahu unemployment office

EXCLUSIVE: State to close Waipahu unemployment office
Published: Nov. 3, 2014 at 10:52 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 4, 2014 at 4:47 AM HST
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WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state's second busiest unemployment office is getting downsized.

State Labor Director Dwight Takamine said the state plans to close the Waipahu unemployment office, four months after the department shutdown its Kaneohe office.

The move will save the department $112,000 a year but will leave it with just one unemployment office on Oahu, the downtown office on Punchbowl Street.

"It's going to be a pain. Getting out from Waianae is hard enough so if they move the office to town it will be ridiculous," said Waianae resident Miki Roman.

Added Ewa Beach resident Joshua Cruz:

"I live in Ewa Beach so I would rather spend a little bit of gas money getting here rather than driving all the way into town and spending more money and fighting traffic the whole time."

All 23 employees at the Waipahu office will be relocated downtown. But no timetable for the shutdown and move has been set.

In a request to close the office, Takamine said the shutdown is necessary because the federal government since 2011 has slashed unemployment division funding by more than a third, or about $7 million a year.

Another reason for the shutdown: computers. Up to 80 percent of all claims are now filed on line.

"We understand some individuals will be inconvenienced by the consolidation of offices and we are developing relationships with organizations in the community to help claimants file online," said Labor Department spokesman William Kunstman.

But some people who are still jobless said online filing still has its problems.

"One little mistake you make on line you end up back in this office again," said Roman.

"So if they make a mistake, and they have to go into town it's going to be horrible for them."

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