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Volunteers assisted the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to process a backlog of unemployment insurance claims in April and May.

The COVID-19 impact on Hawaiʻi’s workforce has affected a wide range of industries, according to a new University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization (UHERO) report.

Based on unemployment insurance claims data from the Hawaiʻi Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, tourism industry employees have seen the greatest impact.

Justin Tyndall, UHERO assistant specialist and assistant professor of economics in the College of Social Sciences; and Philip Garboden, Hawaiʻi Community Reinvestment Corporation professor in affordable housing, and assistant professor in UHERO and the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, said unemployment insurance normally protects employees working for companies going out of business or downsizing. It also fulfills an important role in the construction industry since there can be large gaps between construction work projects. Unemployment insurance covers those gaps.

However, of the nearly 70,000 individuals receiving unemployment benefits in April 2020, approximately 27,000 work in the hospitality/food service industry. Claims from employees in the administration, waste management, retail and transportation industries are also up.

Read the full blog post on UHERO’s website.

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