Hawaii is in line to receive close to $7 billion in various kinds of federal assistance to help it survive the coronavirus pandemic and to help with what is expected to be a long slog to an economic recovery, according to U.S. Rep. Ed Case.
Case told the House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness this morning that Hawaii individuals, businesses and other organizations have already received an estimated $4.5 billion, including $1.25 billion to state and city governments to respond to the pandemic.
Among the beneficiaries is Hawaiian Airlines, which faces an existential threat from what could be a months-long tourism shutdown. Hawaiian is accepting $292 million in payroll support under the CARES Act passed by the Congress and signed by President Trump on March 27, according to an airline spokesman.
Hawaiian has also applied for another $364 million in loan assistance, but that has not yet been finalized, the spokesman said.
Hawaii small businesses have already collected or will soon receive about $2 billion in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which Case said puts Hawaii among the top states in the nation for loans per business and per capita. Case guessed that Hawaii businesses will receive another $500 million later from the second round of applications for the PPP.
Stimulus payments of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child that have been distributed in Hawaii totaled about $680 million as of 10 days ago, and Case said that sum has probably reached $800 million by now. He said he expects another $500 million to $600 million to be handed out in stimulus payments in the weeks ahead.
The CARES Act also included $400 billion to $500 billion to finance the “Main Street Programs” to help larger businesses, which could include a number of hotel chains operating in Hawaii, but the details of that program have not been made public yet.
Case said his congressional staff is tracking about 50 other programs that will provide varying amounts to Hawaii entities, including the $600-per-week in extra unemployment benefits being finance by the federal government.
He said it is difficult to calculate how much that extra “plus-up” unemployment benefit will bring into the state because it is unclear how many people will file for it, but “we have been using for general purposes a figure of somewhere around $1 billion or $1.1 billion for Hawaii,” Case said. “That may well be too low.”
The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relation announced today that 221,731 unemployment claims have been filed with the state — excluding duplicate claims — and 181,846 have been processed. The state has actually paid 65,252 claims totaling more than $116 million through last Friday, according to DLIR.
Other miscellaneous programs to distribute federal aid will bring the total for Hawaii to about $7 billion, he said.
“Now, that sounds good, it is good, but it’s not enough, I think we all know that,” Case said. “There will be many, many, many small businesses out there at the end of this round of PPP funding that will still not have any immediate assistance.”
The businesses that have been left out so far “tend to be much more on the edge, and so I think that’s a real risk factor out there,” he said.
Case said he hopes a fifth bill to cope with the fallout from the pandemic will provide more help to small businesses as well as state and county governments and the medical community. Congress should be taking up that bill in the next few weeks, he said.
The committee also heard this morning that roughly one-third of Hawaii businesses surveyed essentially have zero income at the moment, but 60% reported they could return to almost full staffing immediately once the local economy reopens. That survey included 623 businesses, and was done by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO) and the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.
Carl Bonham, executive director of UHERO, said that assuming local businesses can reopen at about the end of May, “we could see 40% to 50% of the jobs that have been lost so far return through May and June. So, we’re talking about around 90,000 jobs.”
Depending on what assumptions are used on the progress of the virus and the dates that businesses can reopen, Hawaii could see the return by the end of the year of nearly 80% of the jobs that have been lost in the pandemic, he said.