Would you want unemployment advantages in Hawaii? You must search for work

Starting in late May, unemployed Hawaiian residents will have to return to regular work if they hope to maintain their Unemployment Benefit (UI).

Governor David Ige announced Thursday that he will reinstate the job search requirement in the state’s UI program starting May 30.

Anne Perreira-Eustaquio, director of the Hawai’i Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, stated that job search determination has always been part of the state’s unemployment process. After the onset of the pandemic, things eased when trips to the Hawaiian Islands all but disappeared and the state’s largest industry essentially closed, cutting jobs at an economic pace. Now the labor market is starting to recover.

“Those who are completely unemployed have to look (for work),” said Perreira-Eustaquio. “If applicants are partially unemployed or unionized, they don’t need to look.”

The governor said the job search requirement is the only change the state will make to the UI program for the time being.

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“We are currently not suspending any of the other federal unemployment initiatives,” said Ige. “The PUA program will continue. PEUC will continue, (and the) $ 300 per week unemployment insurance allowance … will continue at this point. “

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“We will make decisions about these programs as we continue to measure the impact of the pandemic on our residents and our economic recovery,” continued the governor.

At least 21 Republican-run states in the United States, including Iowa, Texas and Georgia, will cut the federal government’s $ 300 plus benefits in June, according to Forbes. The decisions are justified as an incentive to get America back to work. Many people have been deprived of incentive because state and federal benefits have been shown to be equal and often significantly higher than workers’ salaries prior to the pandemic. That goes for many in Hawaii too.

Governor Ige said the state’s high cost of living has deterred his government from following suit and withdrawing the $ 300 weekly benefit. He said it would be better for the Hawaiian economy and its individual residents to take advantage of the funding for now.

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“We study and learn from other states what policies and programs they have put together,” Ige said when asked about other incentives such as state-sponsored bonuses for state residents returning to work. “We’re going to evaluate what we can do to get people back to work.”

Search For Work specifics

A lack of childcare facilities is usually not an acceptable reason to apply for unemployment benefit under Hawaiian law. However, during the pandemic, the PUA program allows beneficiaries who cannot return to work for childcare reasons.

The job search rule requires that any person moving into Hawaii UI who is not eligible for an exemption must submit three legitimate job requests per week in order to be eligible for their state and federal benefits. The first UI pay period that this is required is the week of May 30th to June 5th, 2021. Any job searches before or after this period will not count towards that specific week.

Each UI applicant is required to keep a record of these job inquiries – this includes applying in person, interviewing for a position, applying online through a standard job website, or applying for a position through HireNet Hawai’i. Further information for employers and potential employees can be found here.

Two units within the DLNR will be responsible for randomly selecting applicants and reviewing their application status, including checking that the job search requirement has been met. Those who cannot accurately prove their job search may suffer performance loss, as can those who have turned down a fair job offer.

As part of Hawaii’s Re-Employment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA), DLIR’s human resources development department reaches out to the unemployed on a random basis and selects people for an individual re-employment assessment, said director Perreira-Eustaquio.

“The assessment will determine whether they have reached any contact,” she continued. “If this is not the case, they will be referred to the unemployment department as potentially ineligible beneficiaries.”

The federal government also mandates the state to conduct quality control assessments. The DLIR Internal Audit Section reaches out to applicants and ensures that everything written on the application was correct. The section also examines the contact requirements for job search. If they find incomplete or inaccurate information, they can also refer an applicant to the unemployment department for investigation.

The Hawaii Restaurant Association has claimed that thousands of unemployed people who previously worked in the industry have turned down offers to return to their positions because unemployed people make more money than they did before the pandemic. They often earn significantly more than they could by going back to work today, as the number of visitors outside of the state is far more sparse than it used to be and restaurant traffic suffers as a result.

Employers offering legitimate jobs to applicants can report those who decline the jobs to DLIR through the website linked in the article above, Perreira-Eustaquio said. An investigation into the UI benefits would follow if the department judged the information to be credible.

DLIR said Thursday that there are approximately 153,000 active UI applicants applying for full benefits and PEUC benefits in Hawaii. There are an additional 38,000 applicants receiving funding under the PUA program. Based on the data available, the state estimates that around 106,000 applicants in the Hawaiian Islands will have to start looking for work by the end of the month if they are to continue to be eligible for their benefits.

According to the governor, a total of more than 230,000 UI claims have been filed since the coronavirus pandemic began. The current unemployment rate in Hawaii is 8.5%, well above the national average of 6.1%.

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