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VIDEO: Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Scott Murakami joins the COVID-19 Care Conversation

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Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Scott Murakami joined the COVID-19 Care Conversation to answer questions about the nearly quarter million unemployment claims that have flooded his office. Murakami says of the 181,000 eligible claims received, as of Sunday, more than 65,000 or roughly 36% have been processed.

He says the call center is still experiencing incredibly high call volumes. On Saturday, they received over 100,000 calls. They are also responding to a large number of emails and have tasked the unemployment office staff on the neighbor islands to help respond.

Independent contractors, freelancers or so-called “gig economy” workers, who may not qualify for benefits may still be entitled to federal assistance under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) but there is no way for Hawaii residents to apply for those benefits at the moment.

Murakami’s office has been working on creating a way for his office to process those applications, and hopes to roll that out sometime in the beginning of May.

“We’re standing up a new landing page, but you’ll still be able to access it through the labor.hawaii.gov site, which is our homepage,” Murakami said.

Murakami acknowledged the frustrations of the thousands of people who have applied for benefits or run into problems trying to do so.

“I hate to say this, but it is an unprecedented time and we’re trying to do everything we can to help the community,” he said.

Watch here and comment through our Facebook Page. Be sure to join us Wednesday when Congressman Ed Case (D-Hawaii) will be our guest.


The COVID-19 Care Conversation, sponsored by Hawai’i Executive Collaborative, airs live every weekday at 10:30 a.m. on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Yunji de Nies and Ryan Kalei Tsuji discuss the latest news, resources and community concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in Hawaii.


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