Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Monday, April 22, 2024 81° Today's Paper

Top News

VIDEO: Ige reinstates job-search requirement for the unemployed, continues extra $300 in weekly jobless aid

Swipe or click to see more
Gov. David Ige is holding a press conference regarding the state's unemployment process.
                                Hawaii’s unemployment office on the corner of Punchbowl and Halekauwila Streets.
Swipe or click to see more


Hawaii’s unemployment office on the corner of Punchbowl and Halekauwila Streets.

                                Hawaii’s unemployment office on the corner of Punchbowl and Halekauwila Streets.

Gov. David Ige announced today that the state is reinstating rules that require people to search for work in order to qualify for unemployment benefits. The change will begin Sunday, May 30.

The requirement to search for at least three jobs a week to qualify for unemployment benefits was waived a year ago after the coronavirus pandemic began to devastate the economy and unemployment claims surged to more than 230,000.

“At this point, the public health measures we implemented and the success of the vaccine program have allowed us to re-energize our economy,” the governor said. “With our pre-travel testing program in place, we’re seeing more people traveling to Hawaii, and as tourism has picked up, more employers are looking to fill positions.”

Ige said the state will continue the extra $300 weekly federal unemployment payment, also known as “plus-up.” More than 20 mainland states with Republican governors and legislatures have dropped the extra jobless aid.

“We will not be suspending any of the federal initiatives at this time,” said Ige, who is a Democrat.

In addition to the plus-up, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA program for gig and contract workers, will continue, as will the the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

He said his administration will evaluate these programs as it continues to monitor the pandemic’s impact on residents and the state’s economic recovery.

The federal plus-up, which was $600 a week early in the pandemic, expired for a period, then was reinstated at $300 a week. The latest payment, which was included in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue package, is scheduled to end nationwide Sept. 6.

Some employers say the plus-up is making it harder to hire workers or to entice furloughed ones back to their jobs.

Ige said state officials are evaluating incentives from mainland states to get people back to work.

“We continue to ask everyone to wear their mask, maintain distancing and help us to manage COVID-19 moving forward,” Ige said.

According to the latest figures from the state, 55,350 people were unemployed statewide in April for a total seasonally adjusted labor force of 649,750.

The state’s unemployment rate is at 8.5%, while the national rate is 6.1 percent.

“We estimate that approximately 106,000 claimants will be needing to look for work. They will continue to reach out to employers and individual postings to see if there is work available and if there is anything that suits their needs,” said Anne Perreira-Eustaquio, director of the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment department has temporarily suspended its unemployment insurance call center operations at the Hawai‘i Convention Center until Monday as the workspace undergoes pest control treatment, state officials said.

>> RELATED: Hawaii unemployment assistance call center closed until Monday for pest control treatment

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines. Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.