Jobless benefits extended in isles
A federally funded expansion provides for 13 more weeks of checks and training
Gov. Linda Lingle has acted quickly to authorize a 13-week extension of federally funded unemployment benefits.
Eligible recipients to receive notice
The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations will mail notices to about 37,000 individuals who are potentially eligible for the increased unemployment benefits. Recipients should bring their notice to a local unemployment insurance claims office. Individuals who have not received a notice by July 19, but believe that they might qualify, should call their local claims office: Honolulu, 586-8970 or 586-8971; Waipahu, 675-0030; Maui, 984-8400; Molokai, 553-1750; Hilo, 974-4086; Kona, 322-4822; and Kauai, 274-3043.
The increase affecting thousands of jobless workers in the state was announced yesterday, just three days after President Bush signed legislation providing for the extension that requires people to have worked for 20 weeks to be eligible for the extended payments.
People who lost their jobs through no fault of their own had been able to collect 26 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits. Now it will be 39 weeks.
"This extension will provide unemployed individuals and their families with additional financial resources to help pay their bills as they get back into the job market," Lingle said in a statement. She noted the federal government, not the state, will pay for the added benefits.
Although approved by Congress and the president, each governor must authorize the use of extended benefits for each state. Massachusetts, Vermont and Ohio are among the states that have also authorized the additional benefits.
An estimated 37,000 people in Hawaii who are potentially eligible for the extended benefits are to receive notices from the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
They should report with their notices to a state unemployment insurance claims office to file for the additional benefits, state officials said. Those who qualify should be notified no later than July 19, they said.
"While Hawaii maintains one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, and our state's economy is able to absorb those on unemployment within an average of 14 weeks, we still have an obligation to assist those who are having a more difficult time in finding employment," state Labor Director Darwin Ching said. "These 13 additional weeks will allow individuals the opportunity to receive further job training and placement services from our department."
The White House had tried to kill the effort to extend unemployment benefits included in a war-funding bill, but the Bush administration ultimately supported a compromise version.